Video: Bears Fry on Concrete at Wilson’s Wild Animal Park

Feds Cite Roadside Zoo for Cramped Enclosures, Lack of Adequately Trained Staff: PETA Asks Visitors to Stay Away

For Immediate Release:
August 25, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Winchester, Va.

“In August of 2017, I saw the two most miserable bears I’ve ever seen,” begins a new video from PETA that shows two bears unable to escape the heat at Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Winchester.

On the hot and humid day on which the footage was taken—not even the worst of the summer—the temperature of concrete around the roadside zoo climbed to 110 degrees, and in the facility’s small, concrete enclosure, one bear lay on her back, her stomach heaving, while the other climbed into a metal trough that contained only enough water to wet her abdomen. The video explains that bears in the wild cool off by swimming in ponds and creeks, retreating to caves, and digging dens in cool earth—none of which they can do at this facility.

The video, which calls out Virginia authorities for their failure to safeguard the bears’ welfare, is being released after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited the roadside zoo for violating federal law by failing to provide bears and tigers with adequate space. The July 20 inspection report orders the facility to provide bears with additional space, structures to climb on, and substrate to dig in—but so far, Wilson’s plans only to expand the current concrete pen slightly.

“No bears should be deprived of the life they deserve and kept in such a way that they’re denied relief from searing summer heat,” PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet says. “Virginia authorities need to move these bears to a reputable sanctuary, and kind people can help by refusing to visit this despicable roadside zoo.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that the inspection report also orders the facility to modify the tiger enclosure or change husbandry practices to allow the tigers to run, to install structures to encourage jumping and climbing, and to provide them with water in which they can play. The USDA also cited the facility for failing to have a sufficient number of adequately trained staff: During the inspection, only one keeper was present to care for approximately 175 animals.

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