How Many More Cubs Will Die Before Oswald’s Bear Ranch Shapes Up?

Published by Katherine Sullivan.

When you discover what Oswald’s Bear Ranch put weeks-old cubs Peanut and Pink String through, you won’t be surprised that they died on the roadside zoo’s watch—but you will be furious. Keep reading to discover where to channel all your disgust for Oswald’s, where more than a dozen cubs under the age of 2 have apparently died suddenly.

A PETA-prompted investigation revealed these two most recent cub deaths at Oswald’s.

Driven by a PETA request, an investigation by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) exposed them in April 2021.

Peanut

Like other cubs acquired by Oswald’s, Peanut wasn’t orphaned and wasn’t rescued. In March 2021, the weeks-old cub was torn away from her mother by New York–based animal dealer Don Fuller and shipped roughly 630 miles to Indian Creek Zoo, another Michigan roadside zoo. A few days later, after Oswald’s had purchased her for $2,000, Indian Creek Zoo shipped the surely traumatized cub off to the tourist trap about 400 miles away. So—in a matter of just a few days—baby Peanut had to endure the danger and stress of being trucked around for more than 1,000 miles at an age when bear cubs in nature are still with their mothers in their dens, incapable of walking on their own yet or even opening their eyes.

New Report: Two More Dead Cubs at Oswald’s Bear Ranch

A few weeks later—or perhaps sooner—Oswald’s began exploiting Peanut, letting visitors hold her for photo ops.

According to the MDARD report, on April 28, 2021—less than two months after Oswald’s had purchased her—Peanut was dead.

So what did Oswald’s do? It seemingly gave her name to a different cub—possibly to cover up her death.

Peanut wasn’t the first cub to die at Oswald’s Bear Ranch in 2021.

Pink String

By now you’re probably wondering, “Who’s Pink String?” In its report, MDARD refers to a weeks-old female cub as Pink String, due to the pink string she was wearing when Oswald’s purchased her from Animal Entertainments Inc. (AEI), an exotic-animal dealer in Wisconsin. The cub’s journey to Oswald’s was seemingly as hellish as the Michigan roadside zoo itself:

  • March 23, 2021—Notorious Illinois animal dealer Gregg Woody received the cub he had purchased from Idaho-based roadside zoo and bear-breeding mill Yellowstone Bear World.
  • March 28, 2021—The cub arrived at AEI in Wisconsin.
  • March 30, 2021—The cub arrived at Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Michigan.

So over the course of a week, this unnamed, weeks-old bear cub was shuffled among four different sites and transported more than 2,000 miles.

According to MDARD, on April 27, 2021, one day before Peanut’s death—and before she had even been named—Pink String died.

*****

Two other cubs who were forced to endure the same multi-stop trip from Yellowstone Bear World to Oswald’s—one named JJ and the other named Peanut in order to replace the dead one—are still suffering at the Michigan death trap.

Of the bears purchased by Oswald’s from dealers in 2021, half are dead. Peanut and Pink String are the 16th and 17th cubs under 2 years old known to have died on the roadside zoo’s watch.

Their tragic stories are two chapters in a long narrative about the gravesite that is Oswald’s—which deceptively touts itself as a “rescue.” Meanwhile, since 2012, PETA has helped actually rescue 76 bears from dire situations. We stand ready and willing to help transfer the 42 bears who are currently still suffering at Oswald’s (including the three new cubs just acquired from Fuller, the same New York dealer who supplied the now-dead Peanut) to legitimate sanctuaries—ones that don’t offer bear photo ops or allow guests to play with cubs but instead focus on the animals’ well-being.

Help PETA Save More Bears From Cruelty and Neglect!

Don’t let Oswald’s continue to get away with exploitation—click below to urge the roadside zoo to send the remaining bears to accredited sanctuaries before more of them die:

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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