Bear Show Under Fire After Video Shows Ailing Animals

PETA Urges Feds to Hold ‘The Great Bear Show’ Accountable for Carting Arthritic, Distressed Animals Cross-Country, Chaining Them During Shows

For Immediate Release:
January 25, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Billings, Mont.

Today, PETA sent an urgent letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate new eyewitness evidence that bears used in The Great Bear Show—which appeared at the Great Rockies Sportshow in Billings last week—are overweight and that individual bears are apparently suffering from arthritis and a chronic skin condition, among other ailments.

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, who apparently suffers from arthritis, appeared to be confined to a small cage during transport and to have access only to concrete substrate, which can exacerbate his painful condition. In addition, a bear named Cindi was videotaped continuously pacing on concrete—an indication of psychological distress. PETA reported all these conditions to the USDA in July 2016. A bear expert also noted that the chains used to restrain the bears during shows are likely heavy and painful and that pulling on the chains to coerce movement can cause long-term trauma to their nerves, spines, and muscles.

“For years, The Great Bear Show has dragged animals from town to town and forced them to perform while chained, despite their chronic, painful health conditions,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling for these long-suffering bears to be released to reputable sanctuaries, where they’d finally be free to live like bears, not stage props.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out 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 are given space to roam, have the opportunity to den, and are never forced to perform tricks.

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