After Decades in Cages, Four Elderly Bears Find a Real Life Together Outdoors

Geriatric Animals Rescued From Defunct Pennsylvania Roadside Zoo Move Across the Country to Colorado's The Wild Animal Sanctuary

For Immediate Release:
August 24, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Keenesburg, Colo. – When they were young, bears Fifi, Bruno, Pocahontas, and Marsha were trained to perform confusing and uncomfortable tricks, such as riding bicycles, at Big Bear Farm, Inc.—a roadside zoo in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. In 1995, the facility was closed to the public after amassing a slew of Animal Welfare Act violations—and in the two decades since then, the four bears have stared out at the world from tiny, squalid pens that they were never allowed to leave. But now, thanks to PETA, the elderly bears have a real life at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.

New video footage reveals how quickly the bears adjusted to their temporary enclosures at the sanctuary. Thirty-year-old Fifi, who appears to suffer from severe arthritis, nonetheless embraced the opportunity to explore the natural terrain and underground den—the first she’d ever gotten to call home—and loved the huge tray of fresh food that she was given when she arrived. She rubbed her face in the tasty treats and splashed in her tub of cool water.

“After more than 20 years in a cage, these bears are finally free to roam, forage, climb, den, and bathe,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA has now rescued 41 bears from roadside zoos and backyards across the country—but this mission won’t be complete until bears are no longer sentenced to a sad life of deprivation in a tiny cage.”

At the sanctuary, the bears will receive the veterinary care that they’ve desperately needed for years, and now that they have adjusted to their new home, they have been released into two vast 15-acre permanent habitats—where, for the first time, they have mounds to climb, tall prairie grass to roam in, large pools to bathe in, and underground dens to hibernate in. They also have an endless supply of the fresh fruit that has made Fifi very happy.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—urges families to steer clear of all roadside zoos and traveling circuses that force animals to perform.

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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