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Alaskan bear cubs found more than 3,600 miles away from home in FLORIDA were ‘crammed into a 200-square-foot chain-link enclosure’ by exotic animal smuggler who faces 11 charges

A pair of Alaska-native cubs were recently found wandering a dark street in Florida – and the man who ‘unlawfully’ imported them is facing nearly a dozen charges.

Shae Hensley, 53, was housing the Kodiak bears on a property in Baker, which were ‘crammed into a 10- by 20-foot chain-link enclosure.’

Hensley told the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office that he forgot to lock the gate one evening, allowing the animals to escape – they are now being held at the Panama City Zoo.

Hensley is facing 11 charges for unlawfully importing the bears without obtaining a permit, failing to report the cubs’ escape and obtaining the animals without the proper enclosure.

PETA told DailyMail.com that it tipped off wildlife officials back in October, telling them Hensley had illegally obtained the cubs from a zoo in New Jersey. 

Shae Hensley, 53, is facing 11 charges for illegally importing two Alaska-native cubs to Florida without obtaining a permit, failing to report the cubs’ escape and obtaining the animals without the proper enclosure

The cubs were 'crammed into a 10- by 20-foot chain-link enclosure,' when Hensley forgot to lock the gate one evening, he told officers in Okaloosa County

The cubs were ‘crammed into a 10- by 20-foot chain-link enclosure,’ when Hensley forgot to lock the gate one evening, he told officers in Okaloosa County

PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott said: ‘If the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) had acted on PETA’s tip back in October, these exploited bears would never have escaped in the middle of the night.’

Hensley was also issued warnings for having improper enclosures for other animals, including foxes, skunks and raccoons. 

The bears made headlines this month after Florida police released body camera footage showing two cubs wandering a dark street at 3:30am. 

Authorities assumed the animals were black bears, but an investigation by FWC proved the cubs’ home was more than 3,600 miles away.

However, a closer look at the size and color revealed the animals were not native to Florida.

According to an incident report obtained by WEAR, Hensley told FWC that he had licenses for the bears from when he obtained them in February 2023.

The bears made headlines this month after Florida police released body camera footage showing two cubs wandering a dark street at 3:30am

The bears made headlines this month after Florida police released body camera footage showing two cubs wandering a dark street at 3:30am

PETA notified FWC back in October that Hensley had the help of New York-based roadside zoo owner Larry Wallach, who gave the Florida resident his license to import the bears.

The bears are believed to have come from Space Farms Zoo in Sussex, New Jersey.

PETA’s investigation into Hensley revealed he had several exotic animals, such as two Patagonia cavies, a young kangaroo, several ostriches and a water buffallo.

Wallach was cited in 2022 by the US Department of Agriculture for housing baby sloths in unapproved locations and failing to provide inspectors with a written program of veterinary care.

But Wallach has denied involvement in the Kodiak bear case. 

Hensley’s name is attached to a company called, Kodiak Productions and Animal Actors LLC that was incorporated on February 18, 2023.

The address shows a location littered with animal pens housing birds and other creatures in the backyard.

WEAR reported Hensley’s property is listed for sale and the site attached to Kodiak Productions and Animal Actors LLC is currently on the market.

Hensley's name is attached to a company called, Kodiak Productions and Animal Actors LLC that was incorporated on February 18, 2023

Hensley’s name is attached to a company called, Kodiak Productions and Animal Actors LLC that was incorporated on February 18, 2023

The address shows a location littered with animal pens housing birds and other creatures in the backyard

The address shows a location littered with animal pens housing birds and other creatures in the backyard

Okaloosa County is located in the Florida Panhandle, which is home to black bears.

While most people may not know the difference, black bears and Kodiak bears look very different.

Kodiak bears are much larger, weighing up to 1,500 pounds while black bears are up to 600 pounds.

The Alaska-native animal is typically brown in color, while black bears can be found with brown, cinnamon and black fur.

The body camera footage starts with two officers getting out PEof their vehicle to meet a resident who made the call.

Hensley allegedly had the help of New York-based roadside zoo owner Larry Wallach (pictured), who gave the Florida resident his license to import the bears. Wallach was cited for housing baby sloths in unapproved locations

Hensley allegedly had the help of New York-based roadside zoo owner Larry Wallach (pictured), who gave the Florida resident his license to import the bears. Wallach was cited for housing baby sloths in unapproved locations

The two cubs were roaming in the middle of the street as officers flashed lights on the road.

‘They want food or something,’ the civilian told officers. ‘They are clearly domesticated.’

The footage shows the man petting the cubs – and the animals also tried to jump inside the patrol vehicle parked on the side of the road.

‘I believe they’re brown,’ said the man as he gave the cubs some food.

‘They are not black bears.’

The officers speculated that the cubs could be grizzly or brown bears.

‘It’s like they’re not afraid of people. They’ll walk right up to people and let you pet them,’ an officer said to dispatch who responded: ‘The shenanigans at 3:30am.’

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  • Source of information and images “dailymail

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