Update: Cherokee Tribal Elders Won’t Stop Until Grizzlies Are Free

Published by Chrissy Matthies.

Update: PETA has learned that Cherokee tribal elders Peggy Hill and Amy Walker have followed through on their promise to file a lawsuit against the Cherokee Bear Zoo for continuing to harm, harass, wound, and imprison grizzly bears in virtually barren concrete pits. Citing the Endangered Species Act, Hill and Walker hope to save these complex, endangered animals from being tortured on Cherokee land. We wish them luck and will watch the case closely.

Originally posted September 27, 2013:

The four grizzly bears imprisoned in barren concrete pits at the notorious Cherokee Bear Zoo (CBZ) have gained two very influential—and compassionate—friends. According to news reports, two tribal elders of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Amy Walker and Peggy Hill, put the longstanding PETA target on notice by announcing their intent to file suit under the Endangered Species Act in behalf of the grizzlies, who are enduring extreme deprivation on Cherokee land.

These bears can’t see over the concrete walls of their pit, let alone spend 18 hours a day foraging for food and digging in the soft earth, brush, and leaves, as they would in their natural habitat. Instead, they’re forced to stand on hard concrete, which can seriously injure their feet and cause skeletal problems. Visitors can buy kibble to throw at the bears, who spend their days begging for morsels of food. Mindlessly circling their prison, the animals are unable to take cover from storms and are forced to drink the dirty water that they also use for bathing.

Walker says it best: “The Cherokee Bear Zoo is an open concrete grave for these intelligent animals and they must be move[d] from the despicable facility to a place where they’ll [be] cared for, not abused and neglected.”

PETA has advocated for these bears for years, and we will continue to do so until the CBZ is forced to release them to a sanctuary, just as another PETA-exposed Cherokee facility, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, did.

What You Can Do

Politely urge the owners of Cherokee Bear Zoo to release the bears to a reputable sanctuary.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind