In the wild, bears can roam across hundreds of square miles and be active for up to 18 hours a day. Those who hibernate have a remarkable ability to alter their basic bodily functions, allowing them to sleep for up to eight months out of the year and to reduce their heart rates by more than 75 percent.
But bears forced to perform are rarely allowed to express these crucial types of natural behavior.
“Wherever you see bears performing, they’re suffering. That’s the fact of the matter,” Rylance explains.
As described in the video, bears’ fundamental drive to hibernate—one of their most basic needs—does not change when they’re forced to live in captivity. They’re also often prevented from expressing other necessary types of natural behavior, such as foraging for food and nesting, which can result in severe psychological distress, frustration, and malnourishment.
“I think people will look back in horror at our treatment of animals today,” Rylance says in a video interview. “[T]here could be such a richer, more valuable relationship for us with animals.”
Other celebrities—including actors Casey Affleck and Alec Baldwin—have lent their voices to bears forced to live in captivity, while singer Joan Jett and actor Cloris Leachman have sent letters to the owner of Pymatuning Deer Park in Pennsylvania urging her to retire a 23-year-old bear named Bosco to a comfortable, reputable sanctuary.
Never buy a ticket to an event in which a bear or any other animal will be performing.