Last year, residents of Oak Ridge, New Jersey, spotted something strange: a bipedal bear — that is, a bear walking around on two legs.
The black bear, which neighbors nicknamed Pedals, apparently has a leg or paw injury that won’t allow it to spend much time on all fours.
Animal-rights activists worry that the bear’s health has declined and fear it might not survive a harsh winter.
They hope it can be moved to a wildlife center where it can be helped, but officials say more information about its condition is needed before a decision can be made.
Activists visited the New Jersey State House on Tuesday to drop off petitions that support relocating Pedals. They say more than 290,000 people have signed the petitions.
Pedals hasn’t been seen in nearly three weeks. State officials say that might mean the bear is off foraging for acorns somewhere, which would be a good thing.
Greg Macgowan, who shot a video of the bear, says it’s common to see bears in the area, but he was “freaked out” when he first saw Pedals.
“We are used to him now, and he seems to have adapted well to his disability,” Macgowan said.