A group of California students and their families got a surprise guest yesterday when a young black bear showed up for the festivities.
The 200-pound bear initially wandered into an elementary school playground located in Bakersfield, Calif., and then wandered through school property. The principal of Ramon Garza Elementary School spotted the bear in front of the administrative officers and "immediately" put the school on lockdown, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Kids were pulled off the playground at the elementary school, but the hundreds of people next door gathered for a graduation at the Sierra Middle School were only separated by a chain-link fence. About 600 parents had been in attendance and could only watch "in awe" as the bear made its way around.
"The bear got on scene, there was graduation going on and he was not an invited guest," Kim Rodriguez with Kern County Animal Control, told the Los Angeles Times. "He felt like he was unwelcome, so he left."
No one was injured and Animal Control captured the bear at a nearby apartment complex about 30 minutes after the bear's initial sighting.
"They didn't want to flip out the bear," Rodriguez said. "They didn't want to do anything traumatic to the bear. The bear was unhappy to be in the situation."
The bear was later released in the Tejon Ranch area
According to Bearlife.org, there are an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 black bears in North America (this excludes the number of baby cubs).
Associated Press has footage of the bear: