Joaquin Phoenix Steps Up to Help Bears Used for His Film ‘Brother Bear’

For Immediate Release:
August 2, 2021

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Los Angeles – After learning from PETA that two bears used as models for Disney’s Brother Bear are being forced to perform in a traveling show, Joaquin Phoenix—who starred in the film, now streaming on Disney+—sent a letter to the owner of Bearadise Ranch demanding that they be taken off the road and offering to help arrange for them to be retired from involuntary show business and moved to an accredited sanctuary.

“I voiced the movie’s main character, Kenai, who, as a lesson in empathy, is magically transformed to be able to see the world through bears’ eyes, and now I’m asking you to see through their eyes, too,” writes the Oscar winner. “These bears deserve better than a life on the road, where they are robbed of everything that’s natural and important to them, and if you put yourself in their place, I’m sure you’d see that, too.”

While on the road, Bearadise Ranch operators keep the bears inside transport cages in which they can barely turn around and cannot avoid being in their own waste. During performances, the bears climb ladders, carry a basketball while walking on their hind legs, pull hoops over their heads, and perform other tricks—likely because they remember what will happen to them if they don’t. Florida wildlife officials recently cited the roadside zoo’s owner after she forced a bear to perform as a “ring bearer” during a wedding ceremony and ushered a news crew into the bear’s enclosure

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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