| Animals |

Five-Year-Old Black Bear Advocate to Lead Memorial for Those Killed in Hunt

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Last week's Florida black bear hunt saw nearly 300 bears killed, with 207 coming on the first day alone. On Sunday, a 5 year-old boy who has been outspoken over the hunt on YouTube will be leading a Black Bear Memorial in Orlando. 

The black bear hunt has been a source of ire and controversy for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has received blowback from animal rights groups over what they deemed a needless hunt. The memorial is part of an event put together by Stop the Florida Bear Hunt, a coalition of animal rights groups that has been speaking out against the hunt. Among the groups is Animal Hero Kids, a charity that encourages and recognizes kids like Khendall, the 5-year-old who will be leading the memorial.

'Khendall is one of our Animal Hero Kids," Susan Hargreaves, founder of Animal Hero Kids, tells New Times. "He’s been the putting word out on the hunt. Before the killings began, he was making videos on YouTube and called on Rick Scott to stop the hunt."

Khendall, who has been called Lil Bear since he was 3 years old, was found by Animal Hero Kids when someone noticed how outspoken and passionate he was about the bears.

"When someone sees a kid being kind and doing good things, they nominate them to us," Hargreaves says. "We got in touch with Khendall's mom and have recognized him as one of our Animal Hero Kids heroes."

As the hunt went on, photos of dead bears taken by animal activists who were monitoring the hunt began to emerge and with it the desire for many to try and do something.

Hargreaves says that after the hunt, her group received emails and calls from parents asking what they could do to help. 

"It became evident that a memorial for the slain bears was called for,” she says.  

The memorial, which is a collaborative effort that includes Animal Hero Kids, Speak Up Wekiva, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Sarasota Voices for Animals, Animal Activist Network, and Girls Gone Green, will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Lake Eola Park in Orlando.

“The eyes of the world are now focused on Florida," says Chuck O’Neil of Speak Up Wekiva, the group that led the legal charge against the hunt, in a statement. "Even though the overwhelming majority of Floridians opposed this hunt, public officials proceeded with it anyway. Our democracy is broken. If any good can come out of this tragedy, it will be that Bloody Saturday, the first day of the hunt, is a wakeup call to every voter in every precinct across this state. “

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