Written by Jeff Mackey
Following a complaint from PETA alleging the painful and horrific deaths of two monkeys at the hands of
pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
has not only confirmed the allegations and cited the company for egregious
violations of the Animal Welfare Act but also took the additional rare step of fining the facility $2,625 for
PETA submitted the complaint to the USDA after a
whistleblower reported that a monkey and a rat had been scalded to death at a
Bristol-Myers Squibb laboratory in New Jersey when their cages were run through the high-pressure cage washer with
the animals still inside. The trapped animals endured intense agony and
terror as the blistering-hot water burned their flesh.
The whistleblower also reported that another monkey
strangled to death after she was attached to the front of her cage—apparently by some sort of tether—then left unattended. PETA's
complaint asked the agency to investigate these deaths and to hit the corporation
where it hurts—in its bank account.
We hope the fine has gotten Bristol-Myers Squibb's
attention, and PETA—which holds
stock in the company so that it can raise these issues with the board and
stockholders—will continue to push for an end to relying on cruel and unreliable animal tests by switching to superior,
modern non-animal methods. Please ask Bristol-Myers
Squibb to make sure that these recommendations are implemented.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
After PETA filed multiple complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) at Chief Saunooke Bear Park, the bear pit must now surrender its exhibitor license. What's more, the license will remain suspended until the dismal facility is able to prove that it's compliant with AWA regulations—if it ever can.
Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians joined PETA in meeting with the USDA to detail the problems at the Cherokee, North Carolina, roadside zoo. Following our complaints and meeting, the USDA charged the bear pit with more than a dozen violations. Now, the park has agreed to pay a fine and surrender its license in order to settle the case. It's probably a smart move, considering that in a 62-page report that PETA gave to the USDA, bear experts who visited the facility documented that, among other violations, the park was failing to maintain adequate barriers between bears and the public, leading to at least two attacks on visitors thus far. According to the experts, the park also failed to supply food for its public feedings that met the bears' nutritional needs and instead allowed visitors to feed them cat food and Lucky Charms cereal. Among many other abuses, the facility also failed to provide the bears with veterinary care and forced them to eat from filthy, unsanitary food containers.
Barely a month ago, a PETA investigation revealed that staff members were deliberately depriving bears of food and that the animals are so stressed from being constantly confined to small, concrete pits that they pace repeatedly and gnaw at the metal cage bars. Our investigation also uncovered drug use, racism, wage-law violations, and more.
Please ask the USDA to take the next step and
confiscate the abused bears.
Does this sound like déjà vu to you? A weekend
visitor to SeaWorld
in San Antonio has sent PETA disturbing photographs of a dolphin who appears to be missing a chunk of
flesh from his or her lower mandible. The injury is strikingly similar to the one sustained by an orca named Nakai
at the San Diego SeaWorld just a few months ago. Just as we
did for Nakai, PETA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) and requested an investigation into the cause of the dolphin's
In Nakai's case, the USDA listed the
orca's injury as being caused by a recessed track that holds gates that
separate two of the tanks. Another injury to another animal, also caused by SeaWorld's
dangerous enclosures, would demonstrate a clear violation of the Animal Welfare
states that facilities must be structurally sound and free from objects,
projections, or edges that may cause injury and that all animals must be
handled in a manner that does not cause physical harm.
But even without injurious enclosures,
SeaWorld still harms marine mammals by robbing them of everything that is
natural, pleasant, and important to them, such as living in family pods and swimming up to 100 miles a day
in the open ocean.
And SeaWorld sentences animals to an
early grave: Orcas, for instance, can expect to live an average of 30 to 50
years in the wild, and some live as long as 90 years. The median age for orcas in
captivity is only 9 years. The debilitating stress of captivity weakens the animals' immune systems. In
fact, some other weekend visitors to SeaWorld San Antonio reportedly told
employees about a shark who was lying belly-up in a tank and appeared to be
SeaWorld: Dangerous for human beings and deadly for marine animals.
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
Written by PETA
Update: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has ordered Cole Bros. to pay a $15,000 penalty for its numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
After receiving complaints from PETA about the cruel and neglectful treatment of elephants Tina and Jewell, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has now formally charged Cole Bros. Circus and its owner, John Pugh, for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including the following:
In addition, Cole Bros. Circus and Pugh were charged with exhibiting animals without a license, employing a tiger handler who lacked adequate training, and illegally dealing in tigers.
The charges follow the seizure of Jewell and subsequent surrender of Tina in 2009 after the circus was slapped with a $150,000 fine for illegally selling the elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Tina and Jewell were rehomed at a zoo, which, while not ideal, is a considerable improvement over being trucked across the country in chains and cramped, stuffy trailers.
Wherever the circus goes, you can bet that animal suffering goes with it. Please leave these cruel shows off your summer itinerary and choose animal-free circuses instead.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Beatings, bullhooks, and betrayal: A scathing 10-page
article in the November issue of Mother
Jones magazine titled "The Cruelest Show on Earth" lays bare Ringling Bros. and Barnum &
dirty secrets. Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter
Deborah Nelson has slammed the door shut on any doubts about the circus's entrenched
culture of animal abuse and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA)
repeated failure to take meaningful enforcement action against the circus.
Nelson details the painful and premature deaths of baby
elephants Kenny, Benjamin, and Riccardo and how the USDA barely addressed their
cases. She also discusses the trauma, terror, and painful wounds
that babies Doc and Angelica endured when they were forcibly removed from their
mothers. Ringling employees acknowledge that elephants suffer "hook boils"
(infected bullhook wounds), and records and interviews document that babies are
dragged away from their frantic mothers, that elephants spend days on end
chained in railroad boxcars, and that nearly all the elephants are suffering
from lameness. In addition, by 2008, more than a third of Ringling's elephants
were infected with tuberculosis.
USDA officials have admitted that they take an arms-length
approach to Ringling. Kenneth H. Vail, who served as the USDA's legal counsel
for many years, said, "If I were an elephant, I wouldn't want to be with
Don't wait to borrow a copy of the magazine—run out and buy
the November/December issue of Mother
by Jennifer O'Connor
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.