Following PETA Complaint, Florida Wildlife Officials Issue Warning for Using Bear in a Wedding—With No Barrier Between Animal and the Public
For Immediate Release:
June 8, 2020
David Perle 202-483-7382
Myakka City, Fla. – After PETA tipped off the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to a recent stunt in which Bearadise Ranch forced an adult bear to perform as a “ring bearer” during a wedding ceremony, the FWC issued a warning against the facility’s owner, Monica Welde, for violations of the state’s captive wildlife laws.
Florida law requires a physical barrier to be present between captive bears and the public—and photos from the March 21 wedding, which were published in The New York Times and Sarasota Magazine, reveal that Welde brought an adult bear named Carroll into dangerously close proximity to attendees. Adult bears could easily overpower and pull away from someone attempting to control one of them with only a leash, and the animals’ size, strength, speed, long claws, and large teeth make them particularly dangerous to exhibit publicly.
“Bears are wild animals who belong in nature, not leashed and paraded around at a wedding,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler. “This stunt could easily have ended in tragedy, and PETA hopes this warning will stop Bearadise Ranch from revisiting this misguided money-making scheme.”
Welde—whose permit to keep bears in the state was recently denied by the FWC, pending appeal—also operates a traveling act called Welde’s Big Bear Show. While on the road, the bears are kept inside cramped transport cages in which they can barely turn around, let alone avoid their own waste. During performances, they’re forced to push carts, carry a basketball while walking on their hind legs, pull hoops over their heads, and engage in other unnatural types of behavior. PETA has repeatedly called on Welde to end the traveling show and move the bears to an accredited sanctuary where they’d be free to roam, dig, and forage as they choose, without ever being forced to perform tricks or used in a publicity stunt again.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.