Wildly Dangerous California Event With Live Bear Prompts PETA Call to the Feds

Published by Danny Prater.

Armed with video footage showing California gubernatorial candidate John Cox interacting with an unrestrained Kodiak bear named Tag at a recent news conference in Sacramento, PETA fired off urgent letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. We’re asking the agencies to investigate exhibitor Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife, which supplied the exploited bear, for apparent violations of both the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and state regulations.

Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife has a long history of citations for violating the AWA, including by failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and locking chimpanzees in “night housing” for up to 18 hours a day. It’s imperative that authorities investigate this shady exhibitor before it can endanger anyone else.

What Happened at the John Cox Bear Event?

During the news conference, Cox was filmed standing inside Tag’s temporary staging area without any barrier and feeding the bear—a 1,000-pound wild animal whose long, sharp claws could disfigure or even kill someone with a single swipe. For the remainder of the event, Tag was separated from the crowd of reporters by only a double-stranded electric wire fence.

“Bears like Tag should be living in a naturalistic environment at an accredited sanctuary, not being abused and used as money-making machines after having been torn away from their mothers. PETA is calling on authorities to investigate this incident and throw the book at everyone responsible for exploiting Tag and putting people in danger.”

—PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler

Bears Like Tag Suffer When Used for Entertainment

Bears used for photo ops and other cheap forms of entertainment are separated from their mothers as infants. They’re forced into abusive training sessions in which they’re made to perform confusing tricks and dragged to events that can be very stressful to them, as these animals naturally shun humans and shy away from loud noises. Tag has been exploited numerous times, including in a social media stunt by Jason Momoa, at Dan Bilzerian’s 4/20 party, and in a Nickelodeon “talent” show.

What You Can Do

Never support any event or venue where bears are forced into stressful and dangerous hands-on encounters with humans. Tell your friends, family, and social media followers not to support them, either.

PETA makes it quick and easy to take action for animals using your phone or computer. It takes less than a minute to speak up, so what are you waiting for? Get started now:

Take Action for Bears

Note: PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and informs the public about those issues. PETA does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.

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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