For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2021
David Perle 202-483-7382
Wellsville, Utah – Armed with video footage showing a noisy crowd surrounding some bear cubs held inside a barren box at a recent local “baby animal” show, PETA sent a letter this morning to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging an investigation into Rexburg, Idaho, bear exhibitor Yellowstone Bear World (YBW) for what appear to be flagrant violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
It violates the AWA to cause animals “unnecessary discomfort,” but YBW displayed the motherless cubs to the paying public on four days in a box that lacked a water bowl, any bedding, soft substrate, or any retreat from the cacophony of the crowd—a known stressor that can prevent cubs from sleeping, further compromising their physical and psychological health. One cub appeared to have thinning hair, a condition associated with a parasitic infestation or inadequate nutrition and exacerbated by stress, something that PETA says warrants a veterinary examination.
“These baby bears should still be comfortably sleeping in their mothers’ care, not being displayed as props,” says PETA Foundation Captive Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Monica Bando. “PETA is asking the authorities to stop Yellowstone Bear World from stressing out bear cubs by using them as a sideshow attraction with little regard for their needs.”
Every year, YBW breeds bear cubs and separates them from their mothers—with whom, in nature, they’d stay for at least two years—at just a few weeks old so that it can use them in shows like this one. When the cubs become too large to be handled, the facility ships them to other roadside zoos or exotic-animal wholesale dealers, and it sent some to the notorious “Joe Exotic” of Tiger King. In the last decade, YBW has also sent at least 65 cubs and 19 adult bears to Gregg Woody, an animal broker in Illinois known to send bears to slaughter.
PETA has also alerted the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to its concerns, as the state requires that animals be handled in accordance with USDA regulations.
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.