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Bears Behind Bars: PETA Asks Feds to Help

Written by PETA | September 25, 2012

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).

Changing the Regulations to Reflect Reality

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 Need Their Space—and Much More

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 bears.

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 well-being.

What You Can Do

Speak up for bears in captivity! Please join PETA in urging the USDA to formulate bear-specific standards to be added to the AWA.

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  • Susie Edgington says:

    Please stop the creulty.

  • Caroline F Bostock says:

    This should be banned.

  • monika kovacs says:

    I can´t believe this is still happening in this day and age. At least give the bears its natural habitat in the enclosure!

  • martha says:

    This is so wrong! These bears deserve to be free and in the wild like all the other bears in the world. You all are going to hell for what you’re doing!

  • Ann-marie says:

    Please improve the condition of the environment of these bears the country that has these bears is breaching the common decency of nature so wrong.

  • Heather Dahman says:

    Please make captive bears lives more “bear”able by working with PETA on their petition they sent over. Even captive bears deserve to live as comfortable as possible with space to roam and grass under their feet instead of in small, concrete cages. Please protect our animals!

  • darlene boushey says:

    To prove their point to all of us humans if this is acceptable i challenged all members of the U.S.Dept of agriculture to stay in this bear facility for 2 weeks if they enjoy their stay (out of their natural environment)with their own kind and the basic food and water !!!!! keep me posted on the results i think they wouldn’t last two days in these deplorable conditions!!!! But good luck members >>>>>>>>>lol!!!

  • Annie Cecil says:

    Wild animals should not be subject to such abuse.

  • Poulami Basu says:

    they must be free…they must lead their natural life at their natural habitat…they don’t deserve to live like this without any reason why u people punish these beautiful creatures?

  • Ryan says:

    These bears needs to be freed.

  • Heidi Andrews says:

    Terrible!

  • Gretel says:

    STOP with the archaic conditions for bears!

  • Tiffany Russo-Malone says:

    This is horrible.

  • blin says:

    help them out!

  • Magda Bednarczyk says:

    Let bears to have a normal life. Would you like to live in such conditions?

  • Maren Hehlke says:

    Please give the bears better conditions than these! It’s not okay to let animals living like that. As human beings we should do anything we can to prevent animals, who cannot help and stand up for themselves, from such lifes and such conditions. It’s making me so sad that someone can do this to livings who feel and just want freedom. Please! DO something about that!

  • ameeta bhalla says:

    very sad…. humans should stop exploiting animals for all the devilish reasons ,, food, money and entertainment. or for some bloody sadists no reason!

  • Maren Hehlke says:

    Please give the bears better conditions than these! It’s not okay to let animals living like that. As human beings we should do anything we can to prevent animals, who cannot help and stand up for themselves, from such lifes and such conditions. It’s making me so sad that someone can do this to livings who feel and just want freedom. Please! DO something about that!

  • ruta patel says:

    keeping animals captive is a worst crime. imagine the situation in reverse. if you would have been captive… away from home.. please .stop it…. BE HUMAN BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING KIND AND COMPASSIONATE.. RELEASE THE INNOCENT ANIMALS..

  • akalvig says:

    Please end this senseless cruelty to these bears!!

  • Karen Roach says:

    Please support enforcing humane conditions for captive bears if they are not returned to their natual habitat where they truly belong :-(

  • akalvig says:

    Please end this senseless cruelty to these bears!!

  • Emma Biddle says:

    please provide these poor bears with better living conditions – this is awful and must be stopped!

  • Terri says:

    what gives man the right to cage these beautiful creatures? why aren’t they entitled to freedom? the government has to do something to stop the circuses and roadside zoos from imprisoning these animals….

  • Isa Woodyard says:

    Please formulate bear-specific standards to be added to the AWA.

  • Mara Mandel says:

    Bears, or any animal for that matter, do not deserve to live in these horrific conditions!!!! They need a habitat that reflects their natural wild home.

  • Gunn nesbø says:

    Please release them.

  • Susanna Henderson says:

    This is so sad. Please! Please! Let them go!!

  • Bethany says:

    BEARS NEED THEIR SPACE—AND MUCH MORE 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 bears. 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 well-being.

  • Ali Farro says:

    Free the animals. Animals living in captivity are being tortured and, worse still, they’re being tortured so humans can be amused. They don’t deserve a life like that.

  • Adilia Anduray says:

    Please stop hurting nature and our four legged family.

  • Barbora Chovanová says:

    Whz would you do that? That is just stupid.

  • Simone says:

    Please help them they deserve better quality of life!

  • anju says:

    Please stop this horrific cruelty!!

  • Amber Bollinger says:

    Please free caged bears.

  • Kelley says:

    Please let those bears be bears! They’re not here for anyone to use and exploit them for money. They are miserable and don’t belong in captivity. Let alone such a tiny cement enclosure! Please free them!

  • Deb MacNeil says:

    No creature deserves to live out their lives in a cage. Their lives are their own.

  • Tina Venerus says:

    This is not a place for bears to LIVE! Totally disgusted!

  • FOX WINTER WOLF says:

    BOYCOTT

  • Adriana Ramos says:

    They deserve so much better!! Act now!!

  • Rachel says:

    the bear at the beardsley zoo in CT is the same. He paces and moans. I’ve complained but no one cares so I just reduced to go anymore. I guess I should do more but don’t know what to do.

  • Michaela says:

    Please stop using this beautiful animals for entertaining! They need so much more place.

  • Gregg Moore says:

    Please do the right thing and remove bears from concrete road-side zoos. I hope you will adopt PETA’s 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 well-being.

  • ANNA KEFALIDOU says:

    so sad..

  • Ilaria La Preziosa, Bruno La Preziosa, Irene La Preziosa, Maria Roma says:

    FUCK THE ZOO!!!

  • Rita Lopes says:

    better conditions for the bears in captivity!

  • Jeannie Vega says:

    Please save these poor creatures!

  • Sue Wyse says:

    In this day in age having animals treated this way is very cruel. Please help the defenceless

  • Mary Freeman says:

    PLEASE FREE THESE INNOCENT ANIMALS! This is not right. Not right at all. How would you like to be trapped in a concrete prison for the rest of your life? No animal should be in captivity like this. Please help these animals who should be out enjoying nature, not being trapped in a concrete prison.

  • Iveta Dragoun says:

    Please change the conditions in which those poor bears live!

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