Oswald’s Bear Ranch Scrutinized Over Differing Accounts of Bear’s Escape

Did Roadside Zoo Operators Tell Fibs to the Feds—Which Is a Felony—About Bear's Fatal Escape? PETA Calls For Investigation

For Immediate Release:
September 19, 2019

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Newberry, Mich. – Lying to the federal government is, literally, a federal offense—and a felony at that. So armed with damning police records and a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report that PETA just received, PETA sent a letter today to the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan calling on him to investigate Oswald’s Bear Ranch’s owners and operators, Dean and Jewel Oswald, over conflicting details given to authorities about an incident in which a bear was killed after escaping from their facility.

In the letter, PETA points out that police records state that the bear, Sophie, escaped from Oswald’s in the wake of a power outage on the night of April 12 and was shot by police three days later, on the morning of April 15. Dean Oswald reportedly told police that several bears had escaped on April 12 and that he’d managed to tranquilize and recover one. But according to the USDA report, at least one of the Oswalds later told agency officials that the bears escaped on April 14—effectively trying to pass off the time during which Sophie was unaccounted for as one night only.

“The Oswalds seem to have tried to conceal that a bear in their custody was running loose for days, resulting in the animal’s violent death,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the U.S. attorney to investigate these suspicious discrepancies and urging the public to stay away from these shameless, reckless animal exploiters.”

PETA notes that Oswald’s has slaughtered at least six bears and euthanized at least one for being “mean” and that a representative of the facility said that such bears should be “made into jerky.” Despite marketing itself as a rescue facility, the roadside zoo didn’t take in a single orphaned cub from government agencies between 2011 and October 2018. It has, however, bred 13 cubs in the past 23 years and purchased or received 67 others for use in photo ops, including three acquired last year from a breeder in Wisconsin.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview that fosters violence toward other animals. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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