Alaska bears go viral after raiding doughnut van: ‘I’m still getting phone calls,’ store manager says

bears in a delivery truck
This Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023 photo provided by Shelly Deano shows two bears getting into a doughnut truck in Anchorage. (Shelly Deano via AP)

Two bears climbed into a Krispy Kreme delivery van and spent about 20 minutes eating doughnuts and ripping apart packaging last Tuesday morning at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

The driver had left the van’s doors open while making a delivery to a gas station convenience store called JMM Express.

Store manager Shelly Deano says he won’t be leaving those doors open anymore.

Deano says it’s a lesson learned for the driver and store employees, who are used to seeing bears in the area.


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The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Shelly Deano: Normally, we didn’t really think anything of it, until that day, when we saw the mama bear walked by the van. And it was in the morning, so it was dark. I tried to bend down to see where she was, because we have gas pumps out there and there were customers. And then all of a sudden I heard, like, movement in the van. Then I heard her breaking open the packages of doughnuts, and then the baby there followed suit. And they just started eating all the doughnuts. Not all of them, but about half of them. So we tried to get them out. We were banging on the van. No luck. They were probably in there for good, maybe, 20 minutes. We then had to call security police. They sounded off their loud sirens. Took them a few minutes to get out of the van, and then they just kind of lingered in front of the store for a little bit. But it took them a little bit, the security police, to get them to move on into the woods right by our building.

Casey Grove: Do you guys see bears out there pretty often?

SD: Oh, yeah, we do. We have to take the garbage out three times a day. We close at midnight, so we do the last garbage takeout closer to midnight. We try to go in pairs if we can. But yeah, they usually frequent around here, because we’ve got woods on all sides of us. And apparently they know where to come.

CG: Yeah, I was wondering, I mean, when you saw the first bear, the mama bear, and then kind of realized it was in the van, were you worried or were you surprised? Or what?

SD: I was, I don’t know if I was surprised. I was more worried about customers taking pictures from so close to the van. And so I had to go out there and say, “You guys need to be careful.” And then I proceeded to go out there and take pictures. But she wasn’t paying attention. She was just eating the doughnuts. It’s like she didn’t care. And so I wasn’t really worried. It was amusing, is what it was.

CG: Hard to blame them though, right? I mean…

SD: Yeah.

CG: So I called the, you know, base public affairs folks to ask them about this. The woman there kind of chuckled for a second, but she didn’t really think it was quite as funny as I think like the rest of us do.

SD: Yeah.

CG: Did they convey to you, or did the base convey to you that, you know, they don’t want the Krispy Kreme truck doors left open or anything like that?

SD: No, but I mean, Krispy Kreme has taken measures, and we’ve also told them the doors need to be closed, obviously. And now he’s gonna start delivering in the back of our store. He usually delivers out front, because it’s easier for him. But he’s gonna go to the back from now on. And he has since started closing his doors, because we just, we never thought about it, honestly, before. You always think of bears and garbage, and always make sure your garbage is taken out, make sure garbage is put inside your house or anything like that. But never did I think about closing the van doors. I didn’t think about that, honestly.

CG: Yeah. Well, there’s a first time for everything, right?

SD: Yeah.

CG: It sounds like you’ve gotten a few phone calls from people like me that are are interested in it. Who all have you heard from?

SD: So NBC and CBS. Of course, our local news, Alaska’s News Source. It’s aired on CNN. I got a phone call yesterday from someone in the UK. And then I got the Washington Post last night. It’s in the Seattle Times. Someone from the Associated Press, and, you know, Insider
Edition I want to say.

CG: Oh, Inside Edition.

SD: Yeah. So, and then, of course, you, and then our own, we have a thing called the Exchange Post just within our company. So that was today also. So it just keeps going viral.

CG: Yeah. I guess I’m the last one to call then. Maybe I’m not doing a very good job here.

SD: It’s OK, you’re the second phone call today. I was like, “Oh, I’m still getting phone calls.”

CG: Maybe it’ll, it’ll quiet down for you soon.

SD: Yeah, I’m sure.

In a statement, JBER public affairs officials said, “Wildlife may be our neighbor, but they should not be attracted to our human food sources. Please use caution when storing or disposing of food to ensure you are protecting our wildlife and yourselves.”

a portrait of a man outside

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him Read more about Caseyhere

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