Update: Victory! Tregembo agreed to settle by releasing the bears if the plaintiffs consented to drop the suit and arrange care for the animals. Caroline Byrd and Lorraine Moe wasted no time in settling the case, and PETA secured the bears’ transfer to the spacious, sprawling Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado. They now live in a vast habitat, in which they can climb, dig, and run as they please. They’ll also have the opportunity to hibernate this year—possibly for the first time in their lives.
The following was originally published on August 3, 2017:
Today, North Carolina residents Caroline Byrd and Lorraine Moe filed a lawsuit against Tregembo Animal Park alleging that the Wilmington roadside zoo’s treatment of the bears Ben and Booger violates North Carolina’s anti-cruelty statute. The plaintiffs seek to have both bears moved to a reputable animal sanctuary.
North Carolina law requires that captive animals be free from unjustifiable pain and suffering, which, for bears, includes access to space to roam and the ability to engage in natural types of behavior, such as foraging, climbing, nesting, exploring, denning, and digging—none of which Ben and Booger can do at Tregembo Animal Park. There, they’re confined to enclosures that are less than 0.0004 percent of the minimum territory that a bear would cover in nature, the functional equivalent of forcing a human to live in a small closet.
The lawsuit points out that neither bear has sufficient relief from public harassment or the summer heat. Booger paces repeatedly—a symptom of mental anguish caused by deprivation and distress—and the park has failed to provide Ben with appropriate veterinary care for severe facial lesions that have left him with scarring on both corneas, causing visual impairment.
“Tregembo Animal Park is inflicting unjustifiable physical pain and psychological torment on sensitive bears,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA joins concerned North Carolinians in urging the facility to move these poor animals to a reputable sanctuary where they’d receive the care they desperately need.”