Three bears walked into a pizzeria…
That might sound like the start of a very mediocre joke — and certainly, it’s hard not to smile at this brazen burglary.
In the surveillance video, a mother bear is seen ambling into Antonio's Real New York Pizza in Estes Park, Colorado, with two cubs in tow — the animals, according to the restaurant owner, had torn out the drive-thru window to get inside.
Evidently, knowing their way around a pizza-making operation, they start with the dough, as mother casually opens the fridge to get at the trays inside.
Now, where’s that salami?
Ahhh.. yes. Top right shelf.
And somewhere inside those cavernous bellies, a pizza comes together. But so, too, does a sobering snapshot of the plight of bears in cities like Estes Park.
These bears are committing a crime of necessity. And although they appear to have gotten away with it this time, it’s more than likely to get them killed eventually.
Colorado state policy is to kill bears that repeatedly gorge on garbage in cities. Pizza thieving would presumably also be a capital offense.
The sad story of bears
Bears are dying in record numbers.
In the city of Boulder alone, 40 black bears were either killed or evicted from city limits between 2003 and 2015. That number is likely surging as humans — and their garbage — sprawl deeper into bear habitats.
If you find it hard to resist the smells wafting out of your local pizza parlor, imagine the plight of a hungry bear — an animal whose astounding sense of smell is estimated to be about seven times sharper than that of a bloodhound. That’s good enough to smell dinner from more than a mile away. In some cases, bears have even been known to sniff out an animal carcass at the bottom of a lake.
Dead bodies and trash bins are one thing. But pizza? That doesn’t stand a chance of eluding a bear's nose. While it may seem like a powerful gift, these days, that sense of smell, coupled with an empty belly, is more like a curse.
In this case, despite thousands of dollars in damages, the restaurant owner’s heart also appears to be as big as a pizza pie.
“A note to police for the future: If bears break into our stores, please don’t shoot them,” he urges in the Facebook post.
Later in the comment section, he jokes, “They missed the honey somehow. We have gallons of it.”