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Woman Bitten by Bear in Cherokee Bear Pit

Written by PETA | December 10, 2009

UPDATE: Victory! As the Chief Saunooke Bear Park struggled, a private benefactor offered to purchase all of the bears. The park quickly accepted the offer and the bears were finally retired to a spacious sanctuary. Read more about the victory and how the bears are doing now here.

Originally posted December 10, 2009:

bear pit


A 75-year-old woman who is a “caretaker” at Chief Saunooke Bear Park (one of the concrete bear pits in Cherokee, North Carolina) was bitten by a bear earlier this week. The bear grabbed her coat through the cage as she and her son, who owns the facility, were giving the animals water. She suffered a serious injury to her arm and lacerations near her mouth and hairline.

Neurotic and hungry, the bears who are imprisoned in the Cherokee pits exhibit unnatural behavior such as pacing and begging as a means of coping with life inside a concrete pit. In this dismal environment, they are unable to forage for food, explore their surroundings, create dens, or receive any of the necessary stimulation and enrichment that bears in captivity require.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investigating the recent attack, and we’ve asked the agency to revoke the facility’s license, but we won’t rest until we see these bears retired to sanctuaries. Luckily, we’ve got some compassionate star power behind us. Bob Barker, friend to animals and proud descendent of Native Americans, has worked tirelessly to shut down the hideous bear pits—from meeting with the Tribal Council for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to advocating for the bears’ freedom in the blogosphere. Help Bob Barker end the suffering by urging the USDA to close Chief Saunooke’s cruel bear prison immediately.

Written by Logan Scherer

Commenting is closed.
  • iphone apps download free says:

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  • Bethechange says:

    I realize this won’t be popular because PETA tends to be all or nothing, but in the case of these bears…we all know they are NOT going to close those attractions. I think another truth is, some of those bears have been there all of thier lives (some more than 20 years) and would not be able to care for themselves in the wild. Has there ever been any thought to trying to raise funds to purchase those facitlies and build better habitats for those than can’t be returned to the wild? Give those who are living in misery a comfortable and more acceptable place to live? The Cherokee will not close those attractions, but they may allow them to be greatly improved. I know its not perfect, but it would greatly improve the life of those bears (and the tigers trapped there).

  • Maggie Huffman says:

    OMG i was just there bc i had a softball turnament there and we went to that exact place i remember seeing THAT exact bear that is strange

  • Merryl says:

    I’ll tell you if I could personally hurt some of these people I watch on the PETA sight I would do it. These people are a bunch of sick bastards who deserve to get back what they give!! I have NO sorrow for anyone who abuses animals. They are the worst kind of people and should be listed with rapistschild sexual abusersand murderers.

  • Angela says:

    Bears are beautiful wild animals how can you treat them as toys or kittensand keep himher in such a small pit it’s obvious heshe reacted in such an aggressive way. It’s a miracle the old lady is still alive ! … Take bears back to their wild lands where they belong.

  • Athena Savva says:

    By the time humans learn we will have lost a few more to these kind of attacks. Maybe then they will aquire some common sense!!

  • mamagomes says:

    a bear pit!?when the hell did they start making these things!!??? Lets put her in a PIT!

  • Marina says:

    Yes… the bears need to be set free NOW… this is so insane that this is happening.

  • Sharon Byron says:

    This Bear PIT is such a horrible and dismal place It saddens me further that it is on a reservation of Native Americans that once HONORED the animal kingdom I for one cant WAIT to see this MONSTROSITY be shut down forever!!!

  • Terra says:

    How in the world could you resist to help these animals? I only wish they knew their true power…

  • firegem123 says:

    Aww poor bear!

  • carla says:

    Oh well… Karma’a a bitch. Too bad it wasn’t more serious. The poor bear.. when will humans learn???

  • Kelley says:

    What kind of loser tourist still thinks this activity is worth spending money on??

  • wes says:

    so sorry for the bears in that pit. set them FREE!!!

  • candice says:

    “bear pit” awful bears should be free and wild!

  • Brien Comerford says:

    Bless the beasts the chidren and the elderly. Both the bear and the caretaker are victims of a fallen and corrupt society.

  • Bluebell says:

    I’m struggling to find any sympathy for such a callous old fool. Maybe she and her equally as uncaring offspring will have second thoughts about their involvement in mistreating these beautiful creatures.

  • Karmah says:

    Too bad he didn’t eat her.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    You know except for the swimming pool in the middle of it that pit bears an uncanny resemblence to the pit in Buffalo Bill’s basement in “Silence Of The Lambs.” Oh and my aunt is 75 years old and works as a caretaker for children after school. Some of us unfortunatley will never be able to retire.

  • killerpriest says:

    oh the irony

  • Aneliese says:

    How on earth could a 75 year old still be a “caretaker”?!