Woman Bitten by Bear in Cherokee Bear Pit

Published by PETA.

UPDATE: Victory! As the Chief Saunooke Bear Park struggled, a private benefactor offered to purchase all of the bears. The park quickly accepted the offer and the bears were finally retired to a spacious sanctuary. Read more about the victory and how the bears are doing now here.

Originally posted December 10, 2009:

bear pit


A 75-year-old woman who is a “caretaker” at Chief Saunooke Bear Park (one of the concrete bear pits in Cherokee, North Carolina) was bitten by a bear earlier this week. The bear grabbed her coat through the cage as she and her son, who owns the facility, were giving the animals water. She suffered a serious injury to her arm and lacerations near her mouth and hairline.

Neurotic and hungry, the bears who are imprisoned in the Cherokee pits exhibit unnatural behavior such as pacing and begging as a means of coping with life inside a concrete pit. In this dismal environment, they are unable to forage for food, explore their surroundings, create dens, or receive any of the necessary stimulation and enrichment that bears in captivity require.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investigating the recent attack, and we’ve asked the agency to revoke the facility’s license, but we won’t rest until we see these bears retired to sanctuaries. Luckily, we’ve got some compassionate star power behind us. Bob Barker, friend to animals and proud descendent of Native Americans, has worked tirelessly to shut down the hideous bear pits—from meeting with the Tribal Council for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to advocating for the bears’ freedom in the blogosphere. Help Bob Barker end the suffering by urging the USDA to close Chief Saunooke’s cruel bear prison immediately.

Written by Logan Scherer

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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