Bears and the City

Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre can add a new attraction to its list of amenities… wildlife watching. (We can’t take the credit for that one. We stole it from a Twitter comment that came from one of our followers yesterday – thank you @AjwTourism!)

At about 3.20 yesterday afternoon, we received an email from the general manager at our city centre hotel, informing us in a ‘breaking news’ style bulletin that there was a bear roaming around in a garbage truck not far from the hotel.

Our first reaction was… ‘are you serious?’ However, shortly followed evidence in the form of three blurry cell phone shots. And sure enough, there it was; a black bear – wildlife’s ‘warrior’ – captured on camera against a backdrop of familiar Downtown architecture.

Vancouver Downtown Bear - found in a dumpster truck on Cambie and West Georgia

Police with Downtown bear Vancouver


Bear sightings in leafier, North Vancouver are quite common – but in the bustling, sky scraping metropolis that is Downtown Vancouver? We did a bit of investigating and yup, this appears to be the first instance of a bear venturing into Downtown as we know it today. Although we did learn that bears were often kept as pets in the early days of Vancouver. Take a look at these pictures from City of Vancouver  Archives.

Bears as pets from City of Vancouver Archives

Image courtesy of City of Vancouver Archives. Photographer: James L. Quiney. Item No: CVA 7-27 Year: 1911

City of Vancouver Archives - Girl with bear 1909

Image courtesy of City of Vancouver Archives. Photographer: James L. Quiney. Item No: CVA 7-13 Year: 1909

We’re still not entirely sure how the bear ended up on its city break. Some report that it was scavenging in dumpsters under the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and went unnoticed as workers emptied him, along with the trash into their truck. Others say perhaps the bear was already in the truck, brought in from an area where one would more likely expect to find bears.

What we do know, is that this bear has caused quite a stir. Within minutes, Twitter was alive with comments about the stowaway, #Downtownbear was trending – and sure enough, the bear even started his own Twitter account – ‘@YVRbear’. (Apparently he ended up in the dumpster after his bachelor party went awry.)

The good news of course, is that Downtown Bear is going to be fine. After being tranquilized, he was escorted away from the city and will be released back into the wild about 100km north of Vancouver this week.

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