For over a year now, Pedals the bipedal bear has been a regular sight around Oak Ridge, NJ, casually strolling the suburban neighborhood looking for any signs of fish innards or porridge remnants, just like any normal bipedal human would. One week he's slouching to and fro like a real boy, the next week he's carefully maneuvering around stacks of logs.
It's become increasingly clear that Pedals isn't just your average honey-stealing celeBEARty—he walks the way he does because he's badly injured his paws. It is believed that he is missing his right front paw, and his left front paw, which dangles in every video, doesn't look much better.
Local resident Sabrina Pugsley started a Facebook page and a GoFundMe page to raise money to help get Pedals to a wildlife sanctuary. "When he was first spotted last year, we were all hoping that it was a minor injury and that he would heal, but he's still not OK," she told ABC News. "You can see that walking upright is taking a toll on him. He can't run, climb or defend himself or even eat properly." Pugsley has raised over $17,000 so far.
This week, Pugsley was contacted by The Orphaned Wildlife Center, a nonprofit wildlife rescue and sanctuary in Otisville, NY, who have offered to take Pedals in and try to rehabilitate the bear. They wrote on Facebook:
We don't feel this bear is of good enough weight going into winter, and we don't feel that it is a normal or natural situation for him to be coming into residential communities like this. It Is not a good situation for Pedals, or for the local community. We continue to hope that the response from [the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife] will be positive.
However, a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson told ABC that they have evaluated Pedals and they believe "the bear is doing fine."
They said in a statement: "All injured bears compensate in their own way to find food and survive and this bear is no exception. Injured wild animals should be given every opportunity to survive on their own in the wild." They added that it "is extremely important not to feed this bear and it is also important to prevent its access to garbage and other foods such as pet food placed outdoors... [so the bear will spend] more time in forested areas searching for natural foods, which will provide it with the best possible nutrition."