When actor Misty Upham, who stars in the Oscar-nominated film August: Osage County, found out that federal law allows captive bears to be housed in cramped, barren cages or concrete pits, she sent a letter on behalf of PETA to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling on the agency to give these intelligent animals new protections.
A Native American, Misty has already spoken out in behalf of the bears housed in deplorable conditions on tribal land in Cherokee, North Carolina, and made a heartfelt plea to the authorities who can make a difference:
“[I]t is critical that the specific and uniquely complex needs of bears be more carefully considered and that licensees who keep bears have more exacting standards for naturalistic habitats, wholesome nutrition, environmental enrichment, adequate space, and sufficient opportunities to engage in other species-specific behavior necessary for their physical and psychological well-being.”
In the woods where they belong, bears explore and roam most of the day. They enjoy digging, constructing cozy nests, climbing, and searching out treats, such as berries. When confined to zoo cages that are devoid of any greenery, trees, or pools to swim in, bears quickly become anxious and frustrated and most develop neurotic behavior, such as pacing constantly or bobbing their heads.
What You Can Do
Act now! Urge the USDA to give captive bears a better quality of life. Please submit comments by January 27.