This McDonalds commercial shows a bear cub coming home—to his family’s furnished cave, of course—to find his father waiting with his report card. After a tense moment, Papa Bear reveals that his progeny is “top of the class,” his lowest grade being an A- in biology. Biology. To celebrate this milestone, the two bears go for McDonalds—hitting up a car whose passengers are chowing down on their burgers and fries.
On first viewing I was amused. Then irked—feeding bears is so not a good idea. They become accustomed to the easy accessible sources of calories, then human/bear conflicts rise, then bears are removed or killed. (Click here to learn how to safeguard your property from bears.)
Then I wondered if perhaps McDonalds was trying to do something more here. Anthropomorphism aside, the ads loosely reflect recent changes in bear behavior. Perhaps the commercial creator had read the Journal of Mammalogy study in which researchers found that Yosemite black bears preferentially claw their way into minivansbecause they have the most food remnants. Nah, that couldn’t be it—the commercial features grizzlies.
Additional perusing on YouTube turned up the Norwegian McDonalds commercial below. The bears’ strange proportions make it difficult to identify the species, but perhaps the commercial was inspired by findings in the Journal of Zoology that urban sprawl and access to human food sources is affecting bear behavior. They’re less active than their wilder counterparts (note bears’ laziness in commercial); become accustomed to human food (ignoring possible victuals in forest in favor of McDonalds); and die younger (terrified screams + high-fat diet?).
The safest bet—for bears and people—is probably sticking to berries.