Bear Show Under Fire After Video Reveals Ailing Animals

PETA Urges Cancellation of 'The Great Bear Show' at Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

For Immediate Release:
March 9, 2017

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Spokane, Wash. – Today, PETA sent a letter calling on officials at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center to cancel a planned appearance by The Great Bear Show next week. PETA submitted a complaint earlier this year with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over eyewitness evidence demonstrating that bears used by the show apparently suffer from various ailments, including arthritis, a chronic skin condition, and obesity. A bear expert also noted that the chains used to restrain the animals during shows are likely heavy and painful and that pulling on them to coerce movement can cause long-term trauma to the nerves, spines, and muscles.

A bear named Barney was videotaped scratching excessively, indicating skin or hair irritation—a condition first reported by the USDA in January 2015. An older bear named Andy apparently suffers from arthritis and appeared to have access only to concrete flooring, which can exacerbate the painful condition. In addition, a bear named Cindi was videotaped while continuously pacing on concrete—an indication of psychological distress.

“The Great Bear Show drags suffering animals, who are often chained, from town to town, forcing them to perform tricks,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center not to host this disgraceful display.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that the bears used in The Great Bear Show are also denied the opportunity to hibernate, which can result in behavioral issues as well as a chronic inability to regulate their own natural bodily functions.

PETA has rescued 57 bears over the past four years and arranged for their transport to reputable sanctuaries, where they have space to roam, have the opportunity to den, and are never forced to perform tricks.

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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