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