Actor Ricky Gervais joins fight to free Ricki the bear

HALLAM, Pa. (AP) – Actor Ricky Gervais has joined the fight to free a female bear who’s been an attraction at a central Pennsylvania ice cream shop for nearly two decades.

The creator of “The Office” encouraged Facebook followers to sign a petition seeking Little Ricki’s release into a wildlife sanctuary.

Gervais says having Ricki caged outside the York County shop is heartbreaking.

Four local residents and the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund sued last week for Ricki’s release.

They say the 19-year-old’s enclosure, with a fenced-in concrete pad and large shed, is inadequate.

Shop owner James McDaniel Jr. tells the York Daily Record ( that public outcry has pushed him toward letting Ricki go.

More than 80,000 people have signed the petition. Gervais’ post has been liked and shared more than 20,000 times.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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