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Cherokee’s Unbearable Pits

Written by PETA | July 28, 2010

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.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • rjam14 says:

    Thank you Peta. I love the billboard idea.

  • juni says:

    At this day and age where we all have so much information at hand on animal cruelty, about inhumane behavior I ask all Humans “don’t you think it is time to check ourselves”? If each one of us do our small part in helping and respecting mother nature, the animals, the birds, every living thing in the Ocean and every living creature on earth. Give all those a chance who are born to this beautiful World, a chance to live FREE and enjoy what Mother Nature has given us. I believe if we can all do our part, this world will be such a better place to live in. Join the fight to save…..

  • Kerryn says:

    I am totally wowed and perpraed to take the next step now.

  • Hobbit says:

    I think your bear pit billboards in western NC are counterproductive. They engender a negative association in the viewer with PETA, not with bear pits. I agree that bear pits are a bad thing, but I think you need to go about getting that message across differently. Thanks, Hobbit

  • Ellen Fuchs says:

    Please stop the cruel and indefensible treatment of the bears in Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park and Santa’s Land. Stop the suffering, move them to a sanctuary where they can live out their lives in peace.

  • Nikki Harmon says:

    I know the Cherokee. I have worked side by side with them. They need to stand back and look at this situation, and walk a mile in the bears’ moccasins, the same way they have asked other’s to, in other situations. And, consider what’s written in the book, “The Cherokee Full Circle” “…respect of nature, the animals, the winged ones, and every living creature is honored as demonstrating sacredness… harmony and respect for nature to the point that even moving a rock without asking permission show[ed] disrespect.”