Ricki the bear freed after years as ice cream shop attraction

HALLAM, Pa. (WHTM) – A black bear who spent nearly 20 years as a caged attraction at a York County ice cream shop is on her way to a Colorado wildlife sanctuary.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund announced Little Ricki’s release Monday, and Pat Craig of The Wild Animal Sanctuary said the bear should arrive there Tuesday.

The nonprofit and four local residents sued last month for Ricki’s release. They said the bear’s small, fenced enclosure at Jim Mack’s Ice Cream shop in Hellam Township offered Little Ricki nowhere to play, run, swim or hibernate.

They agreed to drop the lawsuit after shop owner James McDaniel Jr. agreed to release Ricki.

Craig said Ricki will live out her years in the outdoors with 155 other bears who roam the 720-acre rescue and educational facility about 30 miles from Denver.

The animal rights battle drew worldwide attention. Actor Ricky Gervais joined the fight last month by encouraging Facebook followers to sign a petition for Ricki’s release.

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