Okay – not really. The real story is much better…
The story goes a little like this:
A man is working at a “bear attraction” (yeah, really…) in Montana (I’m so not kidding) . The man we’re talking about is supposed to be in charge of a giant Grizzly bear.
Brock Hopkins, who is the employee in question, then smokes a joint on his way to work.
I’m guessing he probably got the munchies, and using his new and improved decision-making skills, probably came to the conclusion that the bear also had the munchies. He likely decided to test this theory by entering the cage to feed the bear, whereupon he was promptly mauled.
After what I can only assume was a lengthy recovery, Hopkins chose to file a worker’s compensation claim. The owner of the attraction said that Hopkins was a volunteer and decides he will not pay the claim either way, because the man was stoned on the job.
A judge, however, does not feel that way and has now allowed the claim to be processed. Judge James Jeremiah Shea of the state Workers’ Compensation Court ruled last month that Hopkins is eligible for benefits. Shea found that Hopkins was paid, and therefore he’s an employee. The judge also concluded that Hopkins’ use of marijuana was not the main cause of the attack.
That’s the story. So –
Question. If he was an employee, has the court just approved being stoned on the job?
More of an observation: Why do they have a bear attraction outside of Glacier Park? It just seems a little redundant…
This case, to me, is akin to a burglar who is breaking into a home, falls through the roof, then sues the homeowner for “damages.” Only in this case, I’m not sure anyone is a victim other than the bear.
First off, having unqualified people working with wild animals is irresponsible and borders on cruel. The owner of “Great Bear Adventures” needs to be taken to task here. Personally, I don’t think that wild animals should be kept in captivity by anyone other than professionals for rehabilitative reasons, or by qualified zoos for the purpose of sustaining, educating, learning and studying more about various species. But, that’s me.
Secondly, the employee (or volunteer or whatever he is) should be held accountable for showing up to work under the influence. You especially need to keep your wits about you when working with animals. I don’t know (or care) what Hopkins’ qualifications are, but I do know if he was stupid enough to smoke a joint and then enter a bear’s cage, he probably deserved it. And I also believe that if you work with animals, you should be well-insured. (Yes, people are also animals and so really, I just think everyone should be well-insured.)