Oscar Nominee Michael Keaton Condemns Facilities Offering Bear-Cub Photo Ops

Actor Stars in New PETA Campaign Against Animal-Exploiting Operations Like Local Oswald’s Bear Ranch

For Immediate Release:
July 11, 2019

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Newberry, Mich.

Just in time for the busy tourist season, Golden Globe winner Michael Keaton appears in a new PSA for PETA blasting the use of bear cubs for photo ops and calling on tourists not to visit animal-exploiting operations like Oswald’s Bear Ranch, where a juvenile bear named Sophie was recently shot dead after escaping from an enclosure.

“In the wild, bear cubs stay with their mothers for up to two years,” says Keaton. “But across the country, cubs are being taken from their mothers as infants to be used as photo props by profit-hungry exhibitors.”

The Birdman star explains that when the cameras aren’t snapping, the bears are often held in cramped cages with nothing to do but pace and cry. In an exclusive video interview with PETA, he adds, “[I]t’s fine to take pictures of yourself but just don’t involve animals .… It’s simply a question of respect, you know? They’re living creatures, so I just don’t like when their [dignity] is taken away or they’re made to look silly.”

Sophie is just the latest bear to die prematurely at Oswald’s Bear Ranch, where others have been trapped in a collapsed den, suffered a “drug overdose,” or died suddenly of unknown or undisclosed causes—and half a dozen more have been slaughtered. An Oswald’s representative told a state inspector in 2017 that a “mean” bear should be “made into jerky.”

Despite marketing itself as a rescue facility, Oswald’s Bear Ranch—which is owned and operated by notorious animal exhibitor Dean Oswald—typically acquires bear cubs from breeders each year in order to exploit them in stressful public encounters. Cubs there have been seen pacing, crying out, and biting the cage in frustration. Oswald himself posted video footage of cubs self-suckling, a stereotypic behavior pattern indicative of extreme psychological distress, which is common in young animals who’ve been prematurely separated from their mothers.

Keaton joins a long list of celebrities—including Alec Baldwin, Joan Jett, Sam Simon, Mark Rylance, Casey Affleck, and Bob Barker—who’ve teamed up with PETA to promote kindness to bears.

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.

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