Residents of Oak Ridge, New Jersey, are mourning the loss of a beloved perambulating black bear known as ‘Pedals’, following reports of his death.
The bi-pedal bear, who walked upright on his hind legs due to injuries sustained to his forepaws, is believed to have been shot by a hunter.
Fans feared the worst when the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection seemingly confirmed his passing.
But there’s a sliver of hope that Pedals may still be alive, with the agency’s Fish and Wildlife division saying it can’t verify the dead bear’s identity.
“[There’s] no way of verifying the identity of any bear that has not been previously tagged or had a DNA sample previously taken,” it said in a statement.
“During this current bear-hunt period, and in previous bear seasons, there have been multiple bears observed at different check stations with injured or missing limbs.
“Upon arrival to check stations, bears are weighed and measured around the head. DNA samples are taken and a tooth is extracted to determine the bear’s age,” Fish and Wildlife said. “But without any prior scientific data taken from a bear, it is not possible to verify the identity of a bear that has been harvested.”
Footage of Pedals the walking bear below:
The department also released five pictures on Monday that showed the lifeless body of a 151kg American black bear.
It allegedly had deformed forepaws much like Pedals.
On a Facebook page created in memory of the much-loved bear, ‘Pedals the injured Bipedal Bear’, a post claimed he was killed with an arrow during the state’s extended hunting season, ABC News reported.
“The hunter who has wanted him dead for nearly three years had the satisfaction of putting an arrow through him, bragging at the station. The very place where they weighed him, examined his legs, confirmed it was ‘the bi-pedal’. Where there were two biologists on hand taking many, many pictures,” it stated.
The Facebook page has since been removed.
First Cecil the Lion, then Harambe, and now Pedals the bear. The murder of innocent animals gotta stop.#AnimalLivesMatter
— Jacob W. Brannan (@JakeBrannan5499) October 15, 2016
Pedals was first discovered in 2014 by locals in Oak Ridge, where he reportedly lived.
Previous petitions to send the bear to a sanctuary in New York State were thwarted by state officials who said he was not a danger to people, and there had been no plans to capture and re-locate him, according to ABC News.
Pedals the walking bear joins a lengthy list of infamous deaths of iconic animals.
Cecil the lion
Last year, the world reacted with outrage after the much-loved Zimbabwean lion, Cecil, was killed for sport.
The ‘friendly’ lion, who was the star attraction of the Hwange National Park, was shot with a bow and arrow in a gruelling poach by an American dentist.
Cecil was beheaded for big game trophy after US dentist Walter Palmer lured the lion out of the park in the west of Zimbabwe.
Mr Palmer illegally hunted the protected and collared animal and allegedly paid $50,000 for the kill.
He faced a massive public backlash when it was revealed he was the hunter behind the death of the 13-year-old feline.
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) July 28, 2015
I hope that #WalterPalmer loses his home, his practice & his money. He has already lost his soul…
— Sharon Osbourne (@MrsSOsbourne) July 28, 2015
Ricky Gervais was one of many animal advocates who struggled to understand the killing of such a “beautiful animal”.
Huntress Rebecca Francis became a target of Mr Gervais when she posed with a giraffe she killed and promoted her right to hunt big game.
What must've happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal & then lie next to it smiling? pic.twitter.com/DyYw1T5ck2
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 13, 2015
In May this year, before his death turned into a meme, the killing of Harambe undoubtedly sparked the largest outcry against animal cruelty in recent memory.
The male gorilla was shot dead in the Cincinnati Zoo after grabbing a three-year-old boy who fell into the ape exhibit moat.
The 17-year-old western lowland gorilla was seen dragging the child around the enclosure for about 10 minutes before being put down.
Conjecture ensued over whether the decision to shoot Harambe was rash, as debate surrounding animal rights and our responsibility entered the public eye.
An animal shouldn't lose their life because the parents were too careless to watch their child. It's so upsetting, the gorilla was innocent.
— Brandon Evers (@BrandonEvrs) May 29, 2016
maybe you should do a better job of making a gorilla enclosure readily accessible by a 4 yr old? https://t.co/HQ7pB5W1hW
— Tommie Sunshine (@tommiesunshine) May 29, 2016