Written by PETA
since a pig farmer told
our investigator, "Hurt 'em! There's nobody [who] works for
PETA out here," have we recorded so many dumb statements on camera.
told you how, following PETA's
investigation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture fined Chief
Saunooke Bear Park and suspended its exhibitor license.
These are some of the conversations that helped land the bear abusers in hot
1. Bears Biting the Metal Bars
know the bears are miserable.
2. Hiding Things From the USDA
sure the USDA loved this.
3. Not Feeding the Bears
4. Eating the Bears
5. Discrimination Against Native Americans (Who Own the Park Land)
must have gone over well with the landlord.
6. Your Questionable Work Ethic
that don't go well together: impaired awareness and handling bears.
7. How to Treat a Lady
8. OK, so Now Pick
Your Jaw Up off the Floor
guys are so dumb that they could get their own reality show.
9. And Take Action for Bears!
bear pit has been indefinitely shut down, but we still need your voice to ensure that
the animals are safe for good. Sign the petition to request that the USDA immediately confiscate all the
the Chief Saunooke Bear Park and place them in a safe, reputable sanctuary.
Written by Jeff Mackey
PETA has submitted a 64-page petition, which includes case
studies, photographs, and expert statements, to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) asking the agency to create and apply specific regulations for bears held captive in appalling conditions
by exhibitors, dealers, and research facilities. By allowing bears to be kept
in squalid cages and concrete pits and denied everything that is natural and
important to them, the USDA is clearly failing to ensure anything close to
humane treatment of captive bears, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
Last month, PETA successfully used legal action to rescue a bear named Ben, who was kept for six long years at Jambbas Ranch in a cramped cage with a concrete floor. Ben was fed dry dog food once a day
and spent most of his waking hours pacing the few square feet allotted to him. Despite
Ben's obvious suffering and multiple complaints from PETA and others, USDA
inspectors failed to cite Jambbas for violations related to Ben. In state court,
however, a judge ruled that the conditions in which he was being kept
constituted cruelty to animals, proving that the federal AWA isn't preventing
cruelty to captive bears.
While Ben's story has a happy ending, hundreds of other
bears will continue to languish in squalid conditions unless the USDA takes action.
Roadside zoos like Jambbas and the Cherokee Bear Zoo account for
the majority of USDA licensees with captive bears. These shabby facilities keep
bears in tiny barren cages or concrete pits with woefully inadequate space,
lack of physical or mental stimulation, and inappropriate diets and in
conditions that deny the bears any opportunity to engage in natural behavior,
such as hibernating and foraging. Because their needs aren't being met, many
bears in roadside zoos spend most of their time pacing, cage-biting, and
head-butting, which experts agree are signs of distress.
Bears have a natural life span of up to three decades, and
some species can have a home range of thousands of miles. According to the International Zoo Yearbook, "[I]t is recognized
that bears are extremely difficult and challenging creatures to manage in the
captive environment"—just as challenging, according to studies, as
primates. For example, in a study of 33 carnivorous species, bears showed the
most evidence of stress and psychological dysfunction in captivity. An Oxford University study ultimately concluded that "the
keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally
improved or phased out." But the requirements for bears' care currently
fall under the AWA's minimum regulations for a wide variety of unspecified
species, and the USDA is failing to use these generic regulations to protect
In addition to a specific prohibition on keeping bears in
abysmal concrete pit–style enclosures, PETA has proposed regulations that would
require that bears be furnished with naturalistic habitats, dens for nesting
and hibernation, pools for bathing, enough room to forage and explore,
enrichment, and other elements that would improve bears' mental and physical
Speak up for bears in captivity! Please join PETA in urging the
USDA to formulate bear-specific standards to be added to the AWA.
In yet another
important development in PETA's campaign to close down the shamefully dilapidated roadside zoos in Cherokee, North
Carolina, and elsewhere, which confine bears to desolate pits and concrete
pens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just released a complaint detailing the charges that it has filed against Chief Saunooke Bear Park for more than a dozen violations of
the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). These charges come after PETA filed formal complaints with the agency and joined members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in
meeting with the USDA to discuss the problems at this facility.
In April 2010, PETA submitted a report—prepared by leading bear experts who had visited the Cherokee bear zoos—to the USDA, documenting
and detailing dozens of violations of the AWA at these wretched
The USDA charges include failure to provide food for public feeding that was appropriate to
the type of animal and his or her nutritional needs, repeated failure to
provide adequate veterinary care, housing animals in incompatible groups, and the
use of dirty, unsanitary food receptacles—all of which were issues raised in
PETA's expert report.
The agency also cited Chief Saunooke Bear Park (pit) for repeated failure to
maintain adequate barriers between animals and the public so as to ensure the
safety of both. This failure resulted in at least two attacks on visitors to
the park, as detailed in a complaint that PETA hand-delivered to the USDA
asking it to seek revocation of the zoo's license—and now it's finally doing
so, as well as pursuing civil penalties and a cease-and-desist order.
Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to close the pits now and retire the bears to an accredited sanctuary. And, of
course, never patronize facilities that keep captive wildlife in cruel
After inspectors found animals kept in appalling conditions
without proper care, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited two
disreputable roadside zoos in North Carolina for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
PETA keeps these two hellholes constantly in our sights and had just filed a
complaint about Jambbas Ranch Tours before the inspection.
USDA visit to Jambbas
last month following a PETA complaint led to a citation for AWA violations
after inspectors discovered a thin elderly llama who had a "thick creamy
discharge" oozing from an eye socket (the eye "has been gone for some
years"). As PETA had told the USDA, the llama also
appeared to be suffering from diarrhea—the
animal had a large area of what appeared to be dried feces on the back legs but
was given no medical treatment for these conditions.
The inspector also observed
a raccoon whose tail and part of whose hindquarters showed complete hair loss,
The animal was being given an ineffective flea- and tick-control medication,
which wasn't prescribed by a vet as required by law. Immediate veterinary care was ordered to treat the raccoon's condition.
inspection of the Cherokee
last month resulted in a repeat citation for failure to feed a young tiger cub
a healthy, edible, and contaminant-free diet. The cub is described as "small
and underweight for its age. The coat looks dull, dry, and brittle."
The shabby animal
prison (one of three
around Cherokee, North Carolina)
also received a citation for failure to vaccinate the same tiger cub. The
operators were warned of the need to correct this failure "from this day
Roadside zoos range from small menageries to large compounds—but
they are all unhealthy environments for animals. The owners' focus is on their
not the animals' needs, so neglect
and abuse are common.
These cruel operations stay in business only because people
patronize them, so please never visit a roadside zoo, and encourage your family
and friends to stay away too.
Thanks to the generosity of a kind PETA Vanguard Society member who was horrified after learning about the plight of bears at three miserable roadside zoos in Cherokee, North Carolina, PETA has been able to erect a billboard on busy Interstate 40 during the height of summer vacation season. The ad warns tourists that visiting Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, or Santa's Land, which all confine bears to barren concrete pits and pens, is not only cruel but also dangerous.
Please let the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Matthew Pegg know that Cherokee won’t be on your travel itinerary until the bears are retired to a sanctuary.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
This is pitiful: The USDA recently cited two bear exhibits (Cherokee, North Carolina's Chief Saunooke Bear Park and Cherokee Bear Zoo) for gross violations of the Animal Welfare Act—again.
According to newly released USDA inspection reports, Chief Saunooke Bear Park was cited for failing to provide veterinary care to bears suffering from diarrhea and for feeding bears moldy, wilted food. The Cherokee Bear Zoo was cited for failing to provide veterinary care to a grizzly bear whose hair had been falling out for weeks.
Both facilities were also cited for hazardous cage conditions, such as exposure to electrical outlets and sharp, protruding metal that could cause injury. Uh, yeah, and what about keeping miserable animals with sharp teeth in captivity and letting kids get close to them?! In July, a 9-year-old girl was bitten by a bear at Chief Saunooke Bear Park.
After the incident, PETA erected a billboard featuring a little girl with a bloody bandage around her hand and the words "Warning: Children Bitten at Bear Pits. Bear Prisons: Dangerous for Children."
We've long complained that these unaccredited zoos prisons are unsuitable because they deny bears proper exercise, social interaction, and the ability to hibernate. Please help us close Cherokee's cruel bear pits by sending a personalized message to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' tourism agency.
Written by Heather Moore
For years, PETA has been appealing to the leaders of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to do away with three roadside zoos in Cherokee, North Carolina, where bears are forced to live in concrete pits and cramped cages. Almost a year ago, we accompanied animal advocate Bob Barker to make a personal appeal to Principal Chief Michell Hicks, but even Bob was rebuffed. And despite our having presented the U.S. Department of Agriculture with reams of evidence that these cruel conditions violate the federal Animal Welfare Act, that agency has yet to act.
So we're changing our approach. Our private and public appeals to release the bears haven't convinced Cherokee leaders or federal officials that bears who pace back and forth, walk in circles, cry, whimper, fight with one another, and beg visitors for food are under extreme psychological and physical stress. But maybe if we hit the Cherokee leaders in the wallet, they just might rethink their decision to keep these animals in pits. So we are erecting four billboards on highways leading to Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, and Santa's Land imploring travelers to drive right past these awful tourist traps.
Please let the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians know that your vacation plans will take you right past Cherokee until the bears are retired to a sanctuary.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.