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Video shows just how quickly bears can destroy an unattended campsite

Click to play video: 'Curious bears take advantage of zoo-provided picnic in outdoor safety PSA'
Curious bears take advantage of zoo-provided picnic in outdoor safety PSA
WATCH: Is your campsite bear-proof? The Oakland Zoo's bear family shows what happens if it isn’t! – Jun 6, 2024

A brilliant public service announcement, thought up by zoo staff and executed by a family of black bears, shows just how irresistible an unattended campsite is to animals, not to mention how quickly they can destroy it.

The Oakland Zoo, in honour of National Black Bear Day, set up a mock campsite inside their bear habitat last weekend before letting the bears loose.

The site was complete with coolers full of ice and food, leftover marshmallows on roasting sticks, camp chairs, tents and a garbage can.

The awareness event was erected as part of the zoo’s third annual Bear Camp and visitors watched as the bears rampaged through the mock site, opening coolers, pulling down tents, scarfing back marshmallows and trashing a picnic table.

Oakland Zoo / YouTube

The no-holds-barred bears also ripped apart a sleeping bag, devoured the contents of a picnic basket and genuinely looked happy while on their path of destruction.

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Oakland Zoo / YouTube

Interestingly, the family of bears seen in the video calls the Oakland Zoo home because they were involved in a similar conflict in 2017.

According to the zoo, mother bear Cambria and her three cubs entered a home and injured the older woman occupant when she tried to chase them out. Because the circumstances of the encounter were unique, the decision was made not to euthanize the bears but, rather, house them permanently at the Oakland Zoo.

Oakland Zoo / YouTube

However, the zoo says, not all bears are as lucky as Cambria and her cubs.

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“With growing human populations and a large bear population, there are more human-bear conflicts now than ever before, leading to habituation and sows teaching problem behaviors to their cubs,” said the zoo in a press release.

“It comes down to all of us to be bear aware and follow precautions to keep people safe and bears wild.”

In Canada, those living in or visiting bear country are always encouraged to be extremely careful with food and garbage sources – as the saying goes: “A fed bear is a dead bear.”

Parks Canada reminds campers of several ways to stay safe in areas also inhabited by bears:

  • Store your food, garbage and other attractants in a vehicle or hard-sided trailer when not in use. In the backcountry, food should be suspended at a minimum of four metres off the ground, between two trees.
  • Never cook in or near your tent or tent-trailer
  • Dispose of wastewater at a dumping station or in a well-drained downslope far from your campsite
  • Clean up promptly after eating
  • Garbage should go in a bear-proof garbage can or stored in a vehicle or hard-sided trailer. If backpacking, make sure to pack out all garbage.
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