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Bear Cub Wanders through Hayward Store

Posted: Saturday, October 17, 2009 12:00 am - Updated: 11:57 pm, Fri Oct 16, 2009

By McLean Bennett Leader-Telegram staff

Strange but true: Bear cub takes liking to Hamm's in Hayward store

Apparently, bears don't worry much about showing their IDs when shopping for beer.

This image taken from store video Thursday night showed a
125-pound bear cub wandering through Marketplace Foods
& Liquor Depot on South Main Street in Hayward. The bear,
about 1 1/2 years old, was tranquilized in the beer cooler
near a stock of Hamm's. No, it was not the Hamm's bear
featured in commercials.

A bear cub wandered into a downtown Hayward grocery and liquor store Thursday night and cozied up on a shelf above a stock of Hamm's beer. Officials later tranquilized and removed the cub, which had walked through the front door of Marketplace Foods & Liquor Depot on South Main Street.

"The standing joke up here was that it was the 'Hamm's bear,' " store manager JonLeBlanc said Friday, explaining that Hamm's beer used to use a cartooned bear in its commercials. "We like to say the Hamm's bear returned to the beer."

There were about 35 people in the store when the bear wandered through the front doors between 8 and 9 p.m., according to LeBlanc and another witness.

Tino Becker, a German foreign exchange student attending Barron High School, which, of course, has the nickname Golden Bears, said he was leaving a KFC restaurant in Hayward when he saw the bear run across the street and go into the market.

"It at first ran into the door, but then (the door) opened, and then it went inside," Becker, 16, said Friday. "It seemed really scared."

Becker said he and a group of his soccer teammates called the police before following the bear into the store.

"We were excited, and we just wanted to see what it was going to do in there," he said.

However, a police officer told him and his friends to leave before they could catch a glimpse of the animal, Becker said.

The bear wandered through the store's liquor department and into the beer cooler, where it sat down atop a shelf above a stock of Hamm's.

Law enforcement officers responded to the situation, and an employee from the nearby Wilderness Walk Zoo and Recreation Park, about three miles south of Hayward, came with a tranquilizer gun, LeBlanc said.

After tranquilizing the bear, officials took it outside and turned it over to the state Department of Natural Resources. The bear had been in the store about 75 minutes, he said.

The bear weighed about 125 pounds, stood about 5 feet tall on its back legs and was estimated to be about 1 1/2 years old, LeBlanc said.

"It was more curious than anything," he said.

Bennett can be reached at 833-9203 or 800-236-7077.
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