Video: How a Captive Bear This Lawyer Saw As a Child Motivates Her Today

For Immediate Release:
November 12, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Ithaca, Mich.

“When I was a kid, I grew up thinking a bear’s place in the world was as a rug to play on or a spectacle inside a cage to gawk at,” says PETA Foundation lawyer Brittany Peet. “Today, we know better—and as we use our voices for animals, we see roadside zoos being shut down, young people laying down their guns, and my home state evolving beyond Ted Nugent’s Michigan.”

Peet would know. In a new PETA video, the Michigan native shares that, as a child, her family visited a bear named Smoky, who was held inside a barren concrete-floored cage at a park in Mount Pleasant for years. “He died in that cage, without ever having set foot outside of it for who knows how long,” she says in the video. Those visits would leave an indelible impression that helped shape her life.

Fast forward to now: As director of the Captive Animal Law Enforcement division of the PETA Foundation, Peet is a powerhouse for animals like Smoky, advocating for those held captive in roadside zoos, by traveling shows, and in the film and television industries and coordinating the rescues of hundreds of wild and exotic animals. To date, she’s overseen the transfers of 72 bears to reputable sanctuaries. And every time she looks in their faces, she still sees that lonely bear she met so many years ago.

Peet’s video is included in a new 10-part documentary series titled, “PETA Reveals: Everybody’s Got a Story,” which highlights 10 individuals’ “Clark Kent moments”—times when some kind of life-changing experience or personal revelation awakened their sense of social justice and triggered their evolution into activists. For Peet, it was realizing that if her community had spoken up in Smoky’s behalf years ago, his conditions might have improved—and that’s why she’s dedicated her career to speaking up for animals today and encouraging others to use their voices to do the same.

Other videos in the series include one woman’s realization that she couldn’t be a cheese-eating feminist and one man’s experience with post-traumatic stress after documenting abuse in the wool industry. The full series from PETA—whose motto is “Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way”—is available here.

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