Seventeen Neglected Bears Make Journey to New Life at Colorado Sanctuary

Animals Removed From Barren Concrete Pits in Georgia With Help From Hollywood Philanthropist and PETA

For Immediate Release:
January 18, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Keenesburg, Colo. – The last bears have arrived in a huge transport truck this week. That brings the total to 17 bears—including two pregnant ones—who have been relocated from virtually barren concrete pits at a Georgia roadside zoo to acres of natural habitat at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, where they finally have the freedom to explore, roam, and nest as well as the opportunity to enjoy nutritious food, including fresh fruits and vegetables. 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 Black Forest Bear Park in Helen, Ga., the bears showed signs of severe stress such as pacing, had little protection from the elements, and were forced to beg tourists for rotten pieces of apples, a federal law violation for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited the facility. The government also cited Black Forest—which, with the departure of the bears, has now closed for good—for housing the bears in unsafe and decrepit enclosures that contained rust, 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.

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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