For Immediate Release:
May 6, 2021
David Perle 202-483-7382
Sacramento, Calif. – “It appears to be a flagrant violation of the law,” and armed with video footage showing political candidate John Cox interacting with an unrestrained adult Kodiak bear at a news conference at Miller Regional Park on May 4, PETA sent letters this morning to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to that effect. The group is asking the agencies to investigate exhibitor Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife for probable violations of both the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and state regulations.
During the news conference, Cox was filmed standing inside the bear’s temporary staging area without any barrier and feeding Tag—a 1,000-pound wild animal whose long, sharp claws could disfigure or even kill someone with a single swipe. For the remainder of the event, Tag was separated from the crowd of reporters by only a double-stranded electric wire fence.
Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife has a long history of citations for violating the AWA, including by failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and locking chimpanzees in “night housing” for up to 18 hours a day.
“Bears like Tag should be living in a naturalistic environment at an accredited sanctuary, not being abused and used as money-making machines after having been torn away from their mothers,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler. “PETA is calling on authorities to investigate this incident and throw the book at everyone responsible for exploiting Tag and putting people in danger.”
Bears used for cheap entertainment are separated from their mothers as infants, forced into abusive training sessions in which they’re made to perform repetitious and confusing tricks, and dragged to events that can be very stressful to these animals, who naturally shun humans and shy away from loud noises. Tag has been exploited numerous times, including in a social media stunt by Jason Momoa, at Dan Bilzerian’s 4/20 party, and in a Nickelodeon “talent” show.
Note: PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and informs the public about those issues. PETA does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.