by Shawn Skipper - Friday, May 2, 2014
Alongside out-of-place animals and dumb poachers, out and out head-scratching incidents have a home here at the "Wilder World Outdoors." The most recent one to cross my desk comes from Washington University in St. Louis, where someone thought it was a good idea to bring a bear to a petting zoo.
According to a report from KMOV, a bear cub will have to be euthanized and tested for rabies after breaking the skin of 14 Washington University students at an on-campus petting zoo. Why a college needs petting zoo, and why anyone would bring a bear, I do not know. Long story short, someone's poor decision to bring a bear has resulted in the cub having to be put down.
According to reports, the petting zoo was brought on campus in an effort to relieve the stress of finals week. The school says it only asked for domesticated farm animals—like sheep and young pigs—and had no idea a bear would be present. As you might imagine, the young cub (unimaginatively named Boo Boo) wound up being quite the draw.
And, yes, the laws of irony force me to mention that the school's sports teams are called the Washington University Bears. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that that's why the petting zoo owner thought a bear would be a particularly poignant addition.
Anyways, most students were quick to pet the bear. Others held and cuddled it. Being a juvenile animal, it nipped at hands, arms and anything else it could get its snout near. When the school realized that there was a bear on premises, and that 14 students had reported having their skin broken by bites, administrators were forced to act. State officials determined that, in order to protect the students who had been bitten, the bear would have to be euthanized and tested. Administrators sent out a University-wide email asking any student who had been nipped by the bear to come forward.
All told, it's a sad situation. A bear is not a pet, nor are they meant to be held and cuddled by a pack of stressed out college students. The state's decision was the only option available.
Here's hoping that next semester the school will be bright enough to bring in some dogs from the local animal shelter, instead. They're a little more suitable for a college campus than sheep, pigs and bears.
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