PETA: ‘Tiger King’ Ties to Exhibitor Behind Cox Bear Stunt

For Immediate Release:
May 11, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Sacramento – PETA has uncovered that Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife—the outfit that displayed a Kodiak bear named Tag at two of John Cox’s news conferences—has ties to some of the most infamous (and in one case jailed) animal dealers in the wildlife exploitation business:

  • Martin acquired Tag from Robert Sawmiller, a bear breeder who has been in so much trouble with the U.S. Department of Agriculture—including for failing to treat bears’ wounds and locking the animals in metal barrels, leaving them in “a state of unrelieved suffering”—that the agency suspended his license and confiscated seven bears and a cougar in February.
  • Martin has also traded animals like commodities with Tiger King players: He acquired a lion from “Doc” Antle—who was indicted for alleged cruelty to animals and felony wildlife trafficking—and dumped chimpanzees, bears, and a lion at the roadside zoo operated by “Joe Exotic.”

Below, please find a statement from PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler:

Steve Martin trades animals like baseball cards with the worst offenders, from a bear breeder who’s in so much hot water that he’s practically a teabag to the Tiger King felon Joseph Maldonado-Passage. PETA says that Tag the bear is being used in a publicity stunt and needs to be moved to an accredited sanctuary where he could live as a bear should instead of being treated like a prop.

Note: PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and informs the public about those issues. The group 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 or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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