Feds Warn That Workers Are at Risk of ‘Death or Serious Physical Harm’ at Bear Country U.S.A. as Staff Snatch Cubs From Mothers

For Immediate Release:
March 4, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

Rapid City, S.D.

Following a PETA complaint, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited Bear Country U.S.A. and issued a hazard alert warning that conditions at the roadside zoo are “likely to cause death or serious physical harm,” as the facility “did not ensure employee protection from apex predators” when stealing newborn cubs from their anguished mothers. The action comes after an undercover PETA investigation exposed that workers at Bear Country U.S.A. admitted to using fireworks to scare mother bears out of their dens—and then snatched their 8-week-old babies while running chainsaws to drown out the sound of the cubs’ terrified screams.

baby bear cubs in a cardboard box
Bear cubs taken from their mothers at no more than 8 weeks old were kept in cardboard boxes for weeks. Credit: PETA

“Bear Country U.S.A. has been notified that it’s risking its employees’ lives, and the right way to end that is to stop seizing cubs from their anguished mothers,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA is calling for all bears to be moved out of this shady, shoddy, and dangerous tourist trap and to be retired to a reputable sanctuary that doesn’t treat baby animals as props.”

In nature, cubs stay with their mothers for up to two years—but PETA’s exposé documented that workers at Bear Country U.S.A. forcibly separated them at no more than 8 weeks old and kept them in cardboard boxes. Workers were also injured at the roadside zoo. PETA’s investigator was bitten and scratched on the arms by cubs and was told that an adult bear “rip[ped] out a chunk” of a worker’s leg, that another swatted at and lacerated the worker’s heel, and that a cub “beat the s*** out of” another worker’s face. Staff were instructed to kick growing cubs and to “pinch their nose as hard as you f***ing can” if they bit.

Following PETA’s investigation, the facility was cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for using practices that could cause “trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort” to the bears. PETA recently erected a billboard right outside the roadside zoo’s entrance, calling on the facility to stop forcibly removing infant cubs from their mothers.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

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.