To the delight of New Jersey residents and animal-lovers everywhere, Pedals the black bear has been spotted for the first time since December.
The bipedal bear was recently seen on the Old Woodland Trail near the golf course in Oak Ridge, New Jersey.
According to NJ.com, the bear walks on his hind legs because he’s missing part of his front paw. Some have speculated that the bear lost it after getting hit by a car.
The bear was first spotted last summer and quickly became a social media darling, earning himself the name “Pedals,” alongside a Facebook page that’s amassed more than 15,000 followers. But the public’s interest in the bear goes beyond their own amusement.
In the past year Lawrence Hanja, a spokesman for the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, has received a number of calls from members of the public worried about the bear’s welfare.
Despite their concerns, the division maintained that the bear would be better off left alone.
“A lot of people are very passionate about the bear and we understand that. But as wildlife managers, we know bears and other animals who have been injured and managed to survive in the wild,” Hanja told NJ.com last fall. He also said that if the bear’s condition continued to deteriorate, the agency would step in.
Like most bears, Pedals disappeared right before winter. Some of his fans feared his injury would make it difficult for him to den and find food, but based on the video posted last Monday, Pedals isn’t just alive, he’s doing well.
After seeing the latest video of the bear, who was walking briskly at an estimated 350-pounds, Hanja has few concerns about the animal’s future.
Pedals made it through last winter and he says they expect him to make it through next winter, too.
“The bear has an indomitable spirit.”