Pedals the Bear has been killed, with the beloved New Jersey bear famous for walking on two legs falling victim to what some say was a vengeful hunter.
The black bear had gained fame first in the northern New Jersey community and then across the country for its almost cartoon-like manner, walking upright in what the New York Times described as a “Hanna-Barbera cartoon come to life.”
For the past two years, residents of Rockaway Township have been sharing videos of the bear walking through backyards, with its injured front paws pulled close to its chest, the report noted. But now Pedals the Bear is dead, falling victim to a hunter during a five-day hunting season that for the first time in nearly 50 years allowed hunters to use bow and arrow.
News of Pedals’ death was shared through a Facebook page dedicated to the beloved animal, along with a claim that the hunter who killed Pedals had been making plans to kill the animal.
“PEDALS IS DEAD. The hunter who has wanted him dead for nearly 3 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. PEDALS IS DEAD.”
Pedals the bear had gone viral in the years after first being discovered, with videos of the animal walking upright spreading across social media. There were even a number of attempts to save Pedals, including a petition asking local wildlife officials to capture the animal and bring him to a wildlife sanctuary where he could live out his days in safety.
“The people of NJ and now the world have been following Pedals’ story and trying to get him help when finally his ship came in,” the petition noted. “The Orphaned Wildlife Center of Otisville NY has been helping bears for over 50 years. They are prepared to build Pedals a suitable environment- including adaptations to this environment to enable him to function easier – to take him in and provide him assistance.”
More than 300,000 people signed the petition.
There was also a separate GoFundMe campaign to help pay to have Pedals the Bear relocated. It pulled in more than $20,000, topping the goal of $15,000, but ultimately the efforts to capture the bear did not come to fruition.
While many people around the New Jersey community had been reacting with genuine anguish at the death of the beloved animal, across the internet it was becoming something of a joke, the New York Times noted.
“The internet does not like it when a famous animal is killed (think of Cecil the Lion or of Harambe, the Cincinnati zoo gorilla turned into an unstoppablememe). The apparent death of Pedals at the hands of hunter was also met with the by now predictable online outrage. Gothamist reported that the bear had been ‘assassinated.’“
In the hours after the news of the bear’s death hit the internet, many people shared pictures and videos along with the hashtag #RIPPedals.
Residents in the New Jersey suburbs had still been following Pedals the Bear in recent months, with a handful of sightings over the summer. Some noted that he was seen knocking down trash cans in residential backyards, with a few residents even sharing pictures.
It was not immediately clear where Pedals the Bear was killed or the exact day. It was believed that he was shot and killed sometime last week.
Despite the widespread reports that Pedals the Bear had been killed, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection noted on Saturday that there was no way to verify the bear’s death, as it had not been previously tagged and had no DNA sample taken.
[Featured Image by Pedals the Injured Bipedal Bear/Facebook]