Benjamin Cloutier was just 24 years old when he was mauled to death by a frustrated captive bear. He was cleaning the animal’s cage as part of his job at Animals of Montana, a company that rents out wild animals for photo shoots as well as film and television productions.
PETA had asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate because it appeared that the company’s owner, Troy Hyde, had allowed his employees to be in direct contact with the animals, in violation of federal workplace-safety laws. Following PETA’s request, OSHA found that Hyde had twice violated the law. He had Cloutier clean the bear’s cage without first moving the animals to a holding pen, which directly resulted in the young man’s death, and he failed to report the attack promptly after it occurred. An investigation by state officials uncovered more problems at Animals of Montana, including numerous unreported escapes and an attack on an employee by a mountain lion. The employee sustained a gash in his head that went all the way to his skull, but Hyde reported it as a “scratch.”
OSHA wants to see Hyde pay the maximum penalty for a small company, a $9,000 fine. It would be a small measure of justice for the man who lost his life and the bear who was gunned down after the attack.
What You Can Do
If you have witnessed unsafe or inhumane conditions at a live-animal attraction or photo opportunity, please let PETA know.