Do It for Misty Upham: Actor’s Death Prompts Call to Free Bears

PETA Asks Chief Hicks to Honor Native American Actor's Kindness by Closing Notorious Bear Pits

For Immediate Release:
October 17, 2014

Contact:
Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Cherokee, N.C.Frozen River star Misty Upham worked with PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—by calling for the protection of the bears suffering in the roadside zoos still operating on tribal land. And today, in the wake of Upham’s death, PETA has sent a letter asking Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to honor Upham’s legacy by releasing the bears at the Cherokee Bear Zoo—where they can only pace endlessly in tiny concrete pits—to reputable sanctuaries.

“In life, Upham was a powerful voice for animals. Her personal and cultural values included a deep concern for the welfare of all living beings …. In particular, Upham repeatedly called for an end to the suffering of the bears confined in deplorable conditions in Cherokee,” writes Delcianna Winders, PETA’s deputy general counsel. “Reputable sanctuaries with acres where these beautiful, complex animals can roam, forage, climb, nest, den, and otherwise act like bears stand ready to take them, and PETA stands ready to cover all transport costs.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Michell Hicks follows.

October 17, 2014

Michell Hicks, Principal Chief
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Dear Principal Chief Hicks:

On behalf of PETA, I am writing to ask that you honor the tragic death of Native American and Frozen River and August: Osage County star Misty Upham by releasing the bears imprisoned at Cherokee Bear Zoo (CBZ) to reputable sanctuaries.

In life, Upham was a powerful voice for animals. Her personal and cultural values included a deep concern for the welfare of all living beings, and she had underscored that respect for wildlife is part of the core values of Native American culture. In particular, Upham repeatedly called for an end to the suffering of the bears confined in deplorable conditions in Cherokee.

As you know, the bears at CBZ are confined to tiny, archaic, and virtually barren concrete pits and denied everything that is natural and important to them. With nothing else to do, they spend their days pacing back and forth or walking in circles—well-recognized signs of deprivation, stress, and poor welfare. The bears at CBZ are even denied the opportunity to hibernate, a basic biological need.

Reputable sanctuaries with acres where these beautiful, complex animals can roam, forage, climb, nest, den, and otherwise act like bears stand ready to take them, and PETA stands ready to cover all transport costs. In honor of Upham, will you please take the compassionate step of releasing the bears to sanctuaries?

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
PETA Foundation
Deputy General Counsel, Captive Animal Law Enforcement

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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