ORLANDO, Florida – Singing and dancing animatronic bears are a common sight at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World, but a bear that was spotted there on Monday was real and most likely looking for food, prompting officials to close some rides and attractions.
Biologists and law enforcement officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission “safely captured” an adult female black bear at the theme park near Orlando, Florida, on Monday afternoon, Ms Lisa Thompson, a spokesperson for the commission, said in an email.
Before the commission announced that the bear had been captured, Walt Disney World said in an emailed statement that it had closed some of the theme park’s sections, including Frontierland, Liberty Square and Adventureland. The company did not give a timetable for when the sections would reopen.
Ms Thompson said in an email that a black bear had been spotted in a tree at Magic Kingdom, a theme park whose world-famous attractions include Cinderella’s castle and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
“In most cases, it is best for bears to be given space and to move along on their own,” Ms Thompson said, “but given this situation, staff have captured the animal and are relocating the bear out of the park to an area in or around the Ocala National Forest”.
Bears are more active in the fall because they are looking for food so they can pack on fat before winter, Ms Thompson said.
“This particular bear was likely moving through the area searching for food,” she said.
Video footage that the local news channel WESH took from a helicopter showed about a dozen people combing through a wooded area at the park. Five people appear later in the video carrying a large object wrapped in a white tarp or sheet out of the park.
Black bears are the only species of bear in Florida, according to the Fish and Wildlife Commission. There are about 4,050 black bears in the state, the commission said. They can run up to 35 mph and climb 100 feet up a tree in 30 seconds, the commission said.
The biggest threats to bears in Florida are habitat loss and fragmentation, and interactions with humans, including bears being hit by vehicles. NYTIMES