Lights, Camera, Citation! Roadside Zoo to Be Charged Over TV Crew Visit

Florida Wildlife Officials Probe Bearadise Ranch After PETA Complaint

For Immediate Release:
March 8, 2021

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Myakka City, Fla. – PETA has just received word from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that the group’s complaint about a WZVN-TV news crew entering an enclosure with a 300-pound bear at Bearadise Ranch for a news segment has resulted in a misdemeanor citation for the roadside zoo’s owner, Monica Welde. She is required to appear in court on March 13 where she will be charged with violating state captive wildlife laws.

Florida law generally requires a physical barrier to be present between captive bears and the public—however, the news channel aired a clip of the reporter inside the cage without any barriers between her and a brown bear. The live stream on social media also showed that the reporter and the camera operator were allowed to place their hands close to the bear’s mouth while feeding her honey, and the camera operator was shown petting the bear.

Last year, the FWC issued a formal warning to Welde over a stunt involving the same bear following PETA’s complaint that she had paraded her at a wedding without any barrier to protect attendees.

“Bearadise Ranch continues to exploit wild bears who belong in nature—and it continues to run afoul of the law as a result of recklessness and greed,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler. “PETA urges the public to use its better judgment and avoid all roadside zoos and traveling animal shows, whether these sleazy operations are featured on Tiger King or the local news.”

PETA notes that adult bears’ size, strength, speed, long claws, and large teeth make them particularly dangerous to exhibit publicly. The group has repeatedly called on Bearadise Ranch to allow the bears to be transferred to accredited sanctuaries where they’d be free to roam, dig, and forage as they choose, without ever being forced to perform tricks or suffer in publicity stunts.

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 or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.

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“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