Appeal to County Fair: Cancel Cruel, Dangerous Grizzly Act

PETA Calls On Mesa County Fair to Cancel 'A Grizzly Experience' After Handler Is Clawed by a Bear, Exhibitor Illegally Imports Cubs

For Immediate Release:
July 17, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Grand Junction, Colo. – PETA sent a letter this morning calling on the Mesa County Fair to cancel plans to host “A Grizzly Experience,” which is scheduled to appear at the fair next week. The appeal comes after a young grizzly bear used in the act clawed a handler’s face in front of frightened spectators at a county fair in New York last summer—and just months after exhibitor Dexter Osborn received a warning for importing two bear cubs without a permit and confining bears to small, inadequate cages.

In the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Osborn was cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act when a brown bear named Boo Boo escaped from his enclosure and wasn’t found for three days.

“Bears are complex and sensitive animals who become ticking time bombs when they’re confined to tiny trucks and dragged from city to city,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the Mesa County Fair to protect animals and the public by refusing to host ‘A Grizzly Experience’ or any other wild-animal display.”

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PETA’s letter to Kyle Carstens, president of the Mesa County Executive Fair Board, follows.

July 17, 2018

Kyle Carstens


Mesa County Executive Fair Board

Dear Mr. Carstens,

I’m writing again on behalf of PETA with urgent information regarding the scheduled appearance of “A Grizzly Experience” at the Mesa County Fair next week. I urge you to ensure that the fair goes forward without bears.

As you know, last summer a grizzly bear clawed a handler’s face in front of frightened spectators at “A Grizzly Experience” at the Saratoga County Fair in New York. According to a witness, the bear had seemed agitated for several minutes before the attack, which ended with the handler holding his face with “blood streaming from it.” This onlooker explained, “[A]s I watched the show before the injury, I thought of all the things that could go wrong when you take a 500-pound omnivore and treat it like a circus freak.”

That incident is only one example of exhibitor Dexter Osborn’s disregard for the public’s safety and animal welfare. He was also previously cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act when a brown bear named Boo Boo escaped from an enclosure and wasn’t found for three days. In addition, Osborn received a warning from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for allowing unsafe direct contact between an adult bear and his son’s karate teacher.

These incidents are not surprising. Bears are complex, far-ranging animals who require opportunities to roam, swim, forage, and choose their own companions. In the wild, they’re active for up to 18 hours per day, and they spend their time exploring diverse terrain. In bear shows, they’re confined to tiny trucks and forced to travel from city to city to be put on display. Captive bears may lash out in frustration, biting, mauling, or otherwise attacking members of the public.

“A Grizzly Experience” teaches children the wrong lesson: that it’s acceptable to confine wild animals, deny them all that’s natural and important to them, and exploit them for profit. Please prioritize public safety and animal welfare by canceling the cruel bear shows and allowing only animal-free entertainment moving forward.

Very truly yours,

Melanie Johnson

Campaign Coordinator, Animals in Entertainment

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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