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Update: Tourists Aren’t the Only Ones Trapped at This Sad Tenn. Attraction

Written by Jennifer O'Connor | May 7, 2014

Update: PETA has sent an urgent complaint—complete with photographic and video evidence—to Brian Ripley, manager of law enforcement for Region 4 of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), asking that the state immediately launch an investigation and take all necessary actions against Three Bears, including seizing the bears.

Originally posted March 18, 2014:

On the main tourist strip in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the Three Bears General Store (once known as the Three Bears Gift Shop) keeps bears in a pit made entirely of concrete “rocks,” a log or two, and one small pool where they apparently have to drink and bathe. Bears have suffered in this tourist trap for decades. Even after the place burned down in 2008, it was business as usual after the owner rebuilt. Now, after a visitor saw the bears eating contaminated food and with wholly inadequate space, we’re asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inspect the facility to see if the zoo is violating federal animal-protection laws.

Three Bears General Store (3)

Bears are fed dog food and are confined together, even if they don’t appear to get along. They’re on display all day during business hours, with nowhere to hide. The zoo sells visitors cups of broken dog biscuits and chunks of fruit to throw into the pit, even though the food often lands in feces or puddles. Less aggressive bears may go hungry, while the more assertive ones eat too much.

In the wild, bears are active and spend their time exploring diverse terrain, foraging for a wide variety of foods, and digging in soft earth, brush, and leaves. Surrounded by four solid walls, every day is the same as the one before for the bears at Three Bears General Store. They have a very poor quality of life.

PETA has been campaigning against this roadside zoo since way back in 1999, when we offered to help transfer the bears to reputable sanctuaries.

What You Can Do

If you’re taking a vacation or road trip and see signs advertising animal displays, keep on going.

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  • Joni werthan says:

    I live in Tennessee and there should be a law to shut down the bear site and rescue and relocate the bears to a sanctuary or rescue…

  • MJ says:

    This should stop now! this bears derserve more than being isolated in this unnatural confinement!

  • Denise Bowen says:

    Sad, disgusting and, in my opinion, criminal abuse of animals!

  • pat gayzik says:

    shame shame shame on u,may the $$$$$ u make bring u nothing but sadness & horror!just like u have given them!!!

  • Rhonda Allen says:

    This needs to stop!! There’s alot of people that care!!

  • DEVINA SHARMA says:

    THIS IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!!!! STOP IT!

  • Jennifer LeVea says:

    We clearly need to attack the problem with legislation that does not allow this. Please work towards that PETA.

  • brigit says:

    I hope this will comes into the media than i hope it will be picked up and the bears can be saved from this sad sad life its a shame to treat these animals such way:-(((

  • Anne Willis says:

    Unfortunately, some SOUTHERN STATES like Tenn., Georgia, and North Carolina have these tragic and disgusting bear concrete PRISONS, down in pits with tourists throwing junk food down to them. This majestic animal has been HUMILIATED! Never patronize these awful exhibits. COmplain to PETA and others if you know of any others. SAVE THE MAJESTIC BEARS!

  • Kathy Angvik says:

    Please free them. That is deplorable.

  • dheeraj says:

    Please take the action. They have the right to live too.

  • Patricia squire says:

    That is so wrong and cruel has to be stopped

  • Vivian says:

    Disgraceful that people use innocent animals as a financial gain and not only that treat them with the bare minimum!!! God will punish the culprits!!!

  • Cathy Gaboreau says:

    BEARS BELONG TO THE WILD!

  • Leanne, Phoebe & Lola Raddatz says:

    Let them be free as they should be. They have feelings too, obviously the people/zoo’s, who keep them in this unnatural slum, don’t have a caring sole in their bodies!! LET THEM GO PLEASE, LET THEM GO.

  • Harriet Kettle says:

    It needs to stop they should be in their nataural habitat

  • Leondra roberts says:

    Bears are not in this world to generate cash flow it’s disgusting that they’re exploited and their natural order of life is demeaned for human attraction it’s cruel and injust – stop this nasty practice !!!

  • This is barbaric and seriously needs to stop now.

  • Nancy verlinde says:

    How sad we can’t get those poor bears in a sanctuary. We all need to come together and call Bob Barker, he may help!

  • Jessica Willmore says:

    BEARS SHOULD BE FREE!!! BORN FREE STAYS FREE!!! GET THEM OUT OF THAT SLUM!!!!

  • jolene bullock says:

    seriously…the keepers think this is ok? so they would treat there children like this too?
    shut this torture chamber down

  • Robyn says:

    Can the USDA seize them?

    • bugsandpiper says:

      Unfortunetly, The USDA only requires that the animals get food, water, and shelter. The shelter only has to be big enough to allow simple functions of the animal (i.e. lay down, stand up, and turn around.) It also does not require that they provide any nature vegitation. I believe we should require more from our Zoo’s and “attractions.” PETA is moving towards finding a solution for this problem. Please help spread the word about these bear attractions. They are all over the mountians and Tennessee. Thank you.

  • N Kirby says:

    How sad they aren’t out in the wilderness. I have been to this store and they are bored and they rock back and forth most of the day. They need a way to hunt and forage for food. They shouldn’t be begging for food.

  • Rajini says:

    It is sad that we cannot help these bears :( How can we make the governing bodies to go and make it right?

  • just go to travel sites and tell possible visitors that they profit off the misery of bears.

  • Shelly Davidson says:

    We simply cannot tolerate the exploitation of animals for profit.

  • Cinzia Moncini - Italy says:

    As these bears are in so bad situation, isn’t possible to relocate them in a sanctuary? And if not why?

    • Jennifer O'Connor says:

      The way the law stands, these bears are the “property” of the people who own the roadside zoo. You can’t just go in and take them and send them to a sanctuary. There are two options: The USDA must seize the bears or the owner must agree to relinquish them.

      • michelle says:

        How can we make that happen?

      • Laurie Armer says:

        The USDA is a façade for prior executives of the food industry. Their PRIME purpose is to make those entities happy….for a price. The inflict fines as another source of income! They are USELESS!!! Fire them ALL and get everyday “human beings” that are actually animal advocates in those positions!!

  • faith daron says:

    Sickened by abuse to every animal/mammal/factory farms…they are immoral..extremely cruel!

  • michelle says:

    justice stop mistreating animals no longer cruelties

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