Gentry Safari Responds To Viral Video Showing Bear Pinning Pony In Enclosure

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GENTRY, Ark. (KFSM) — Owners of the Wild Wilderness Drive-Thru Safari in Gentry responded Monday to a widely circulated video showing a pony in a bear enclosure apparently being pinned by a bear.

The video began circulating over the weekend and was shot by a visitor to the Gentry facility. It appeared to show a pony in the enclosure pinned to the ground by a bear.

Officials at the safari said the pony, named Piper, was fine after her bear encounter and had been checked by a vet. They also said they would conduct an internal review of the incident.

The pony was one of several, along with several goats, that were in the enclosure to help trim the grass. Ponies, donkeys, antelope and other animals are often used to clear out vegetation and overgrowth in animal enclosures, said co-owner Charles Wilmoth. He said the animals are used instead of lawnmowers and weed trimmers.

According to the Siloam Springs Veterinary Hospital, they were called to check on the horse. Officials with the animal hospital told 5NEWS that the horse is doing "really good."

Wilmoth said they have been doing this for years and expect to continue the practice, though they will keep a closer eye on the animals. He said something like this hadn't happened before.

The incident comes just months after the safari reopened after closing for maintenance and as the result of a 60-day suspension of its license by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The park paid a $75,000 fine and served the suspension to resolve a complaint that it had violated the USDA's Animal Welfare Act.

The January 2017 complaint accused the safari in Gentry of 68 violations from 2012 to 2016. It says the safari failed to provide sufficient veterinarian care and kept animals in dirty or otherwise insufficient conditions, and accused it of not providing adequate distance and/or fences between animals and the public.

The park passed inspection and had the suspension lifted and its license returned, but it remained closed to complete maintenance on barriers, roads and the chimp barn. It reopened in March.

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