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Woman reunited with black bear she helped rescue from cage

Posted: 11:35 PM, May 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-07 01:35:20-04

KEENESBURG, Colo. ­— A bear that spent years living alone in a small cage in Pennsylvania now lives in a wildlife sanctuary in Colorado and was reunited this week with the woman who helped save her.

For 16 years, Ricki the black bear was held in a 250-square-foot cage with a concrete floor outside Jim Mack’s Ice Cream in York, Pennsylvania, where visitors could pay a quarter to feed her a mix of dog food and corn.

“She gets all the good food she wants, she has all the water holes to swim in," said Kent Drotar of the Wild Animal Sanctuary. "So we increased – well the lady who rescued here -- increased her longevity of about 10 to fifteen years of high quality life.”

Kelly Bennett, who lived nearby, worked with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and filed a lawsuit on Ricki’s behalf in 2014.

The owner of the ice cream shop agreed to settle the suit in 2015 and Ricki was moved to Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, where she’s lived ever since.

At the sanctuary, Ricki is free to roam over 15 acres and enjoy the company of other bears.

On Monday, Bennett traveled to Colorado to visit the sanctuary, where she got to see Ricki outside of a cage for the first time.

“I cried a lot it was emotional, I didn’t think I would,” Bennett said. “I don’t think she knows who I am, but I think that she knows that something great has happened to her.”

Bennet said she hopes this story inspires others to help those animals they see in need.