The B.C. Wildlife Park has been inundated with phone calls and emails from animal rights groups demanding Clover the kermode bear cub be set free, said the park’s general manager.
“We’ve been getting a lot of emails and a lot of phone calls,” Glenn Grant said Friday.
“They’re making comments like ‘we demand you release him immediately’ and things like that. They aren’t leaving a return phone number for us to contact them back.”
One such group, the Vancouver-based Lifeforce Foundation, has sent an open letter to Premier Christy Clark and NDP Leader Adrian Dix requesting the white spirit bear be released.
The group has posted the letter on its website, and asks visitors to email it to politicians. Founder Peter Hamilton said captivity is psychologically and socially damaging to all animals.
“I’m totally against keeping animals in captivity,” he said.
He also disputed claims that Clover, who is housed at the B.C. Wildlife Park because he became habituated to humans after being found orphaned in northwestern B.C., would be in danger if relocated to the wild.
Hamilton said Clover wasn’t a nuisance bear prior to capture. He’s convinced the bear is being exploited and will be turned into a tourist attraction.
“He isn’t a problem bear. He was off on his own and didn’t have any contact with humans until October,” he said.
Grant said everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. As far as he’s concerned, Clover was malnourished and had a low likelihood of surviving the winter had he not been brought to the park.
“Even now, he has an appetite like a horse,” he said.
Environment Minister Terry Lake contacted Lifeforce after reading the group’s letter. He tried to convince Hamilton that Clover is better off where he is but the two were unable to come to an understanding.
“He sees it as very black and white. I see it as every situation is different,” said Lake, a former veterinarian.
Clover had to be tracked, tranquilized and returned to the wildlife park earlier this week after escaping from an enclosure just days after arriving at the facility.