Seventeen Bears Removed From Barren Concrete Pits

Animals Given New Life, Acres to Explore at Sanctuary Home

For Immediate Release:
January 18, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Helen, Ga. – Seventeen bears—including two pregnant ones—have been relocated from virtually barren concrete pits at Helen-based Black Forest Bear Park to acres of natural habitat at Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo. The move was a result of a collaborative effort among PETA, The Simpsons cocreator Sam Simon after whom PETA’s Virginia headquarters is named, and the Atlanta Humane Society. At the bear “park,” the bears showed signs of severe stress such as pacing, had little protection from the elements, and had to beg tourists for rotten pieces of apples, a federal law violation for which the facility was cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The government also cited Black Forest—which has now closed for good—for housing the bears in unsafe and decrepit enclosures that contained rust, corrosion, jagged edges, and protruding bolts.

“The difference between the miserable existence that these bears endured for years and the freedom and joy that they’re now experiencing is the difference between night and day,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “Bears don’t belong in roadside zoos, deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them, including being able to feel the earth beneath their feet.”

Black Forest was one of a number of substandard facilities featured in a formal petition that PETA submitted to the USDA for bear-specific welfare standards. After more than a year of inaction on the petition, PETA sued the agency, which weeks later published it in the Federal Register and is seeking public comments. At Wild Animal Sanctuary, the bears live in vast habitats that are measured in acres, not feet, and are full of enrichment. They now have the freedom to roam, nest, and forage and are able to enjoy nutritious food, including fresh fruits and vegetables.

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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