Bear Cub *Won't* Be Put Down After Rabies Scare at Washington University Petting Zoo (UPDATE)

Categories: Animals

brownbearcub.jpg
Steve Hillebrand via Flickr
A bear cub will be euthanized after a rabies scare at Washington University in St. Louis.
Boo Boo, a two-month-old bear cub, will be euthanized and tested for rabies after nibbling on the fingers of fourteen Washington University students at a petting zoo.

Cindy's Zoo, a petting zoo based in Moscow Mills, brought the bear to the university as part of an annual petting zoo designed as a stress reliever for students before finals. The bear was a special treat for the school, whose mascot is a bear, and students took photos of themselves cuddling, petting and even walking the bear on a leash.

Update: According to the latest from the Post-Dispatch, Boo Boo is safe. LONG LIVE BOO BOO THE BEAR. In case you missed it, click through for the whole tale.

"The Missouri Department of Conservation has traced the bear's whereabouts enough to the point they don't think he has rabies and they don't have to kill the bear," said Pat Washington, a spokesman for St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, to the Post-Dispatch.

Here's the adorable Boo Boo:

Because the bear was born in the wild, state and local health officials cannot rule out the possibility that it carries rabies, the university said in a statement to the media.

"The only way to confirm is to test the bear cub following euthanasia," Washington University spokeswoman Susan Killenberg McGinn says in the statement. "This is an extremely unfortunate situation, for our students and the bear cub."

See also: Rabid Bat Found in University City Home

Results should be known in 48 hours, the university says. If the bear tests positive, students will receive rabies vaccinations.

University officials had no idea Cindy Farmer, the owner of Cindy's Zoo, was bringing a bear cub born in the wild to the petting zoo along with the typical goats and pigs, according to the statement. Farmer voluntarily surrendered the cub for testing.

Congress of the South 40, the group that organized the event, tells Daily RFT it is not giving any statements at this time.

Students were outraged to hear the bear would be put down and took to social media to criticize the school:


"I don't think the bear should have been brought to campus in the first place," student Raja Krishna, 21, of Cleveland, tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "This event was both misguided and subsequently mishandled. For the entertainment of a few students, a bear cub had to die, and I think this is just ridiculous."

The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has sent Cindy's Zoo several official warnings for violations of federal regulations. Warnings from 2012 and 2013 say the petting zoo did not provide adequate veterinary care to control, diagnose and treat diseases.

Here are two official warnings:

MO130062-AC Cindy Farmer-Ryan 6-28-13_Redacted

United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Warnings, part 2

Update 5:55 p.m.: It appears there's been a reprieve! From the P-D:

"The Missouri Department of Conservation has traced the bear's whereabouts enough to the point they don't think he has rabies and they don't have to kill the bear," said Pat Washington, a spokesman for St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley.

As a result, the 18 students who said they were nipped by the bear will not have to be tested for rabies, said a university spokesman.

"We are very pleased that this unfortunate situation has come to the best possible conclusion for everyone involved -- our students, our community, and the bear cub," said spokesman Susan Killenberg McGinn.

But the owner of the petting zoo is not off the hook....

"We are looking into this," said USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa.

Washington University students, do you have a picture of or story about Boo Boo the bear? Contact Daily RFT reporter Lindsay Toler at lindsay.toler@riverfronttimes.com.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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66 comments
Stephanie Hults
Stephanie Hults

I work at wash u. The bear is NOT being put down. They were able to trace the bear's line and are certain the bear does not have rabies. The bear is in state custody.

Mindi Elizabeth
Mindi Elizabeth

Why isnt anyone asking wtf this woman is going to do with this bear when it is an adult?

Joe F Sullivan
Joe F Sullivan

Don't think the bear was put down there was a wide protest

Daniel Reyna
Daniel Reyna

RFT this is irresponsible reporting....the cub will not be euthenized per KSDK.

Nita Biffar
Nita Biffar

put him back in the wild, you do not have to kill him to test for rabies. what the hell is wrong with people, so the next child bite someone are we gonna put them down also, it is a baby, 2mo. old baby, this really shows how stupid some people really are

Monica Brendel Duwel
Monica Brendel Duwel

Is anyone asking how the damn petting zoo even had the bear cub? There is a lot of blame to go around. And let's talk about how after the first bite the bear should have been removed? Or how the petting zoo should not have brought the best at all?

Kathi Lorraine Goodson
Kathi Lorraine Goodson

Just heard on the news that the baby bear is not going to be euthanized ... So happy to hear

Melissa Travous
Melissa Travous

Boo Boo does not have rabies and isn't being put down.

Justin M Politte
Justin M Politte

THEY ARE FUCKING WILD ANIMALS! Stop using them for Show-n-tell! That's the consequences of handling these animals. Puppies and kittens can break skin too, parents don't rush their pets to be euthanized...... Dumb Fucks.

Elizabeth Jaggie
Elizabeth Jaggie

Yes, I saw earlier that they would NOT be putting him down; that he was tested and did not have rabies etc....???

Jennifer Keenan
Jennifer Keenan

Bullshit!! You can't expect a "wild animal" not to nip/bite! This is WRONG!!

jes2283
jes2283

As a WUSTL alum I am disgusted with them right now.  Bears are not a tool of relaxation for human pleasure but are a wild animal that need to be respected as such.  Terrible decision making from whoever approved the decision to bring this cub to campus and their position at WUSTL needs to be re-evaluated.

Karl Tricamo Brandt
Karl Tricamo Brandt

I read an earlier report where the school was originally quoted as not having any prior knowledge of the petting zoo visiting the campus.

Nikolas Tutza
Nikolas Tutza

True Justice prevailed!! I'm so happy that the brave handlers offered to be vaccinated with no harm to Baby Bear (Boo Boo)

Jenny Kyle
Jenny Kyle

so I just read they are not going to put the bear cub down - still a crazy story and why they brought a bear to begin with is beyond me

Kurt Beindorff
Kurt Beindorff

It was reported that the school had knowledge of the petting zoo. The zoo stated they would have domesticated farm animals only.

Kurt Beindorff
Kurt Beindorff

Bears are not carnivores, they are omnivores. Of course, this doesn't make much difference to the students who were bit or to the bear itself.

Gretchen Wynn Taylor Shoemaker
Gretchen Wynn Taylor Shoemaker

I just read that the bear will not be put down, there is no rabies risk, and the students don't have to get tested. Not saying the zoo behaved responsibly, but at least the bear cub doesn't have to die.

Kurt Beindorff
Kurt Beindorff

Boo Boo got a reprieve. Where was Yogi when this all went down. As a Bear myself - Per Veritatem Vis

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

This is animal abuse. This bear is going to have to pay with it's life just because some stupid ass people were trying to make a quick buck by putting kids in harms way. They should get major fines, have the petting zoo dissolved, and never be allowed to get the chance to do this crime again. There should be a national registry for those who commit animal abuse.

Cheryl Parker
Cheryl Parker

KSDK just reported that the baby cub will NOT be put down. :) no rabies were found when tested they said. Glad Boo Boo will be ok.

Alice Ryan
Alice Ryan

sorry......who has say over the bear in the MO dept of Human health.Thank you

Alice Ryan
Alice Ryan

If you want to help this bear call Kelly Strocka at 573-815-7901.She is the states vet from thy MO Dept of conservation he is in her care and she has a say over what happens to this bear.I am also working on finding out who

Karl Tricamo Brandt
Karl Tricamo Brandt

Simple explanation. "The school had no knowledge of the petting zoo." Cough.

Jamie Brogan
Jamie Brogan

Why can't they wait 10 days to see if it shows signs of Rabies like they do with cats or dogs?

Heidi J. Greene
Heidi J. Greene

Idiocies of college educated egos. Will the abuse of animals ever end??????

Alexandria Faye
Alexandria Faye

Cindy's Zoo has been cited by the USDA at least six times in the past two years for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including for unsafe housing, lack of water for the animals, and unsanitary living conditions.

Jean Randolph
Jean Randolph

If they quarantine n the bear is positive then it will b to late for the humans.. I worked in the field for years n rabies was the least of my issues!! Total BS that this ass has an exotic in the first place !!!

Eric Lozano
Eric Lozano

I would bet my last dollar most people liking this comment go to the zoo yearly, eat meat, and own a pet. Hypocrites.

James Knight
James Knight

If people got Vaccinated this wouldn't be a problem. Rabies vaccines are something you get preeetty early on. This Bear would be just fine if there weren't a concern that some of these people's parents didn't think to vaccinate for one of the most common diseases in the wild. Blame the idiots who aren't vaccinated, not the Bear. And believe me, PETA won't help you unless there is money in it.

Rick Jones
Rick Jones

I will do some research on her and so should Fox 2 News!

Lisa Whitlow
Lisa Whitlow

how in the world did they not test this poor animal BEFORE having him paraded around for the students??? now as a result of someone not doin their job thoroughly this innocent life is gone?? so messed up

Debbie Hanley Parsons
Debbie Hanley Parsons

This really pisses me off!!! Wash U you are so in the wrong. Kill a baby bear because of your stupidity. Humans need to take responsibility for their actions. Another innocent animal has to die because people are stupid.

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