The cost of keeping wild animals in captivity is always more than the price of admission to a zoo or amusement park. Just ask the woman who lost two of her fingers after trying to feed a caged black bear at a Wisconsin zoo last week. The 47-year-old woman—who was with her 3-year-old granddaughter and boyfriend—had her thumb and forefinger bitten off, and two other fingers were partially severed. The boyfriend was also bitten while trying to pry open the bear’s jaw to get the animal to release the woman’s hand, but he didn’t lose any fingers.
Bears in captivity spend much of their time pacing, walking in tight circles, swaying or rolling their heads, and showing other signs of psychological distress. These behaviors are not just symptoms of boredom—they indicate profound depression caused by being denied everything that is natural and important to them. Bears, like any wild animal, are unpredictable and will try to defend themselves if they feel threatened and are unable to escape—sometimes with serious or deadly consequences.
News of this perilous encounter comes less than two weeks after Tilikum—the imprisoned orca—killed a SeaWorld trainer. It’s just further evidence that patrons of zoos or any facilities that display captive animals are not only supporting the mental, physical, and emotional torment of animals, they are risking their own safety as well.
Written by Logan Scherer