Chief Saunooke Bears: Life After Rescue

Published by Ingrid Newkirk.

It’s been just over a year since 11 bears felt grass under their paws for the first time after being plucked from the virtually barren concrete pits at Chief Saunooke Bear Park, a roadside zoo in Cherokee, North Carolina. It was a happy day for the bears when they found themselves picked up by a huge transport truck/plane and deposited in the lush woods of the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd, Texas.

Chief Saunooke Bears One Year After Rescue

PETA worked for years to free these bears from that roadside hellhole, where they were so stressed by their constant confinement that they turned around and around in tight circles, paced endlessly, and broke their teeth gnawing on the metal cage bars. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended Chief Saunooke’s license shortly after PETA released our 2012 undercover investigation of the facility.

Now, our rescued friends bask on soft grass in the warm Texas sun, cool off in their pond, and forage in a vast, natural habitat. The bears show virtually no signs of the deprivation they endured for years at Chief Saunooke, and they enjoy their freedom to be bears—several of them even dug their own dens this winter! Best of all, the bear pits at Chief Saunooke are closed forever.

Chief Saunooke Bears One Year After Rescue

Chief Saunooke Bears One Year After Rescue

What You Can Do

While these bears will live out their lives in comfort and safety, hundreds of bears across the United States continue to suffer in roadside zoos. Please urge the USDA to implement regulations that address the complex needs of captive bears without further delay, and get everyone you know to do the same.

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“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