Local Roadside Zoo to Pay Up After Lying to Feds

For Immediate Release:
December 9, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Newberry, Mich. – Just-released federal records reveal that Oswald’s Bear Ranch has been ordered to pay a $2,400 penalty to settle a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) complaint stemming from a tip from PETA that the roadside zoo’s owners had lied to the USDA about the circumstances surrounding a bear cub’s death.

Two cubs escaped from Oswald’s during a power outage that began and ended on April 12, 2019. One was recovered that same day, but the other—named Sophie—was shot and killed when she was found three days later ripping screens off a neighbor’s windows. One of the roadside zoo’s owners, Dean Oswald, later lied to USDA officials by claiming that a power outage that had lasted until April 15—the day Sophie was found—had allowed the bears to escape.

“A bear cub died because of a dysfunctional operation,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler. “Oswald’s Bear Ranch is a death trap for the vulnerable animals it uses as photo props, and PETA asks the public to stay away from it.”

PETA notes that Oswald’s regularly misleads the public by marketing itself as a rescue facility even though it has bred 13 cubs in the past 25 years and purchased or acquired 77 more from dealers, including at least a dozen in the past three years alone, for use in photo ops. Once the bears become too big to be used for photos, Oswald’s moves them to enclosures where they have been seen pacing and swaying their heads back and forth in evident psychological distress. Many have died prematurely, and an Oswald’s representative has said that a “mean” bear should be “harvested … and made into jerky.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on the group’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org 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