Screaming, Struggling Cubs at Yellowstone Bear World Bring On PETA Complaint to Feds

For Immediate Release:
April 22, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Rexburg, Idaho – PETA has observed bear cubs crying, struggling to escape being passed around like toys, and lying limp with apparent exhaustion and from overheating at recent Rexburg-based Yellowstone Bear World (YBW) events, prompting the group to fire off a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today seeking an investigation into apparent federal Animal Welfare Act violations.

PETA’s complaint covers the following events:

  • Over four days at the International Sportsmen’s Expo near Salt Lake City, YBW subjected nine 9-week-old cubs to near-constant, stressful handling by employees and customers who paid to touch and take photos with the babies, who often screamed and writhed as they were passed back and forth. The relentless photo ops went on for up to nine hours—and by day’s end, the cubs were draped listlessly over the arms of YBW workers. One employee resorted to fanning an evidently overheated cub with a sheet of paper.
  • At YBW’s ongoing “Cub Palooza” event at its tawdry roadside zoo in Rexburg, employees pulled cubs out of their artificial cave enclosures so crowds of customers could touch them. Cubs writhed and cried, and one sucked on a handler’s face—a comfort-seeking behavior that can be a sign of distress, particularly among cubs prematurely separated from their mothers.
  • At a “Baby Animal Days” event in Wellsville, Utah, YBW displayed cubs for many hours without adequate rest or retreat from the public in a room where the noise reached 85 decibels—a volume potentially damaging to human hearing, let alone a bear cub’s, which is twice as sensitive.

“Yellowstone Bear World brings a spectacle of suffering baby bears wherever it goes,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler. “PETA is calling on the government to hold this outfit accountable for exploiting vulnerable cubs and is urging the public to stay away from its seedy photo op stunts.”

PETA’s complaint also reports that a deer in the YBW petting zoo defensively lunged at a group of children, with no attendant or barrier present, posing a risk to everyone involved.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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