PETA Calls On State Wildlife Officials to Crack Down on Bear Pit, Stop Cruelty

Animals at Pigeon Forge Menagerie Lack Space, Shelter, Uncontaminated Food, and Any Semblance of a Real Life

For Immediate Release:
May 7, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

The five bears trapped in a concrete pit at Three Bears General Store are forced to eat food scraps scattered among their feces, made to drink from the same water they bathe in, and exposed to all weather extremes with no shelter—all apparent violations of Tennessee laws. That’s why PETA has this morning sent an urgent complaint—with photographic and video evidence—to Brian Ripley, manager of law enforcement for Region 4 of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, asking that the state immediately launch an investigation and take all necessary actions against Three Bears, including seizing the bears and sending them to a sanctuary.

“In nature, bears walk on earth, explore, climb, forage, and dig, but at Three Bears General Store, they can only stand on concrete without so much as a blade of grass beneath their feet. The bears have a poor quality of life in this unnatural environment,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “The only way this despicable facility will ever stop tormenting bears is if the animals are confiscated in accordance with state law.”

Visitors to this Tennessee tourist trap throw broken dog biscuits to the bears. Because the pit is often littered with feces and urine, the food scraps become contaminated with the bears’ waste. The concrete floor is cracked in places, making adequate cleaning nearly impossible. The bears have nowhere to escape from onlookers during the day, and if they’re slow to come out of their night pens, they’re locked inside for the rest of the day. In what could only have been a terrifying experience, the bears were trapped in their holding pens when the building burned down around them in 2008.

PETA’s complaint includes an expert animal behaviorist’s notes stating that in nature, bears occupy a space of about 8,960 acres each—and that at Three Bears, the five animals are confined together to a mere 4 percent of a single acre. The expert—who has worked with captive bears for decades—further concludes that the conditions in which the bears are kept are “compromising the animals’ mental and physical health and welfare.”

To see PETA’s complaint and more information, please visit PETA’s blog.

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