Bear Urinates in Apparent Distress During Circus Show

PETA Calls for Federal Investigation, Urges Bears' Release to Reputable Sanctuary

For Immediate Release:
February 21, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Council Bluffs, Iowa – Based on eyewitness video footage of a bear urinating in apparent distress when pulled by a leash and forced to walk on his or her front legs during the February 18 performance of the Tangier Shrine Circus outside Omaha, Nebraska, PETA sent a letter this afternoon calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the act, known as “Castle’s Bears,” for apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

PETA is offering to arrange for the transfer of the bears used in the act to a reputable sanctuary. The group has also called on the Mid-America Center not to host exotic-animal acts in the future and urged the James Cristy Cole Circus, which produced the Tangier Shrine Circus, not to use exotic-animal acts ever again.

“Dragging sensitive bears from town to town and yanking them around for a circus show should have ended in the Dark Ages,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA stands ready to transport these bears to a reputable sanctuary, where they’d never be tormented again.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—showed the eyewitness footage to a bear expert, who noted that the loud music and noisy crowd of a circus performance is inherently distressing to bears. Castle’s Bears also pulls and yanks on the lead and muzzle to force the animal to comply, which can cause long-term trauma to bears’ nerves, spines, and muscles.

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.

For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

 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