Video Shows Animals Suffering at Cherokee Bear Zoo

PETA Calls On Feds to Investigate Evidence of Cub Who Chewed on Cage Bars, Pacing Bears, Concrete Pits, and More

For Immediate Release:
June 8, 2017

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Cherokee, N.C. – Armed with eyewitness video footage recorded on May 28 by a concerned member of the public, PETA sent a complaint today requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigate the notorious Cherokee Bear Zoo (CBZ) for numerous apparent animal-welfare violations.

The video shows a young, solitary bear cub—who, in the wild, would have stayed with her mother for two years—gnawing at the bars of her cage and a bear licking his or her paw, a sign of possible osteoarthritis or foot injury likely caused from living on concrete. Some bears paced in endless circles in their tiny barren pits, a behavior associated with frustration and psychological distress. There were also shredded black mats in several enclosures—presumably supplied in an attempt to relieve the stress of living on concrete—which pose health hazards to the bears and could even kill them if ingested.

“These bears should be exploring a vast habitat at a reputable sanctuary, not pacing endlessly back and forth on concrete and begging for food from tourists,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on authorities to inspect this squalid roadside zoo and ensure that these suffering animals receive the care that they desperately need.”

Other zoos have recently been cited for confining bears in to cramped cages and for failing to address distressed bears exhibiting who exhibited stereotypic behaviors like those at Cherokee Bear Zoo. Deer Haven Mini Zoo in Keymar, Maryland, and the Denver Zoo were both recently cited for confining bears to cramped enclosures and for failing to address distressed bears who exhibited stereotypic behavior like those at Cherokee Bear Zoo. PETA is calling on the USDA to crack down on Cherokee Bear Zoo so that the bears it confines will also be moved to naturalistic habitats and given the space to roam, bathe, and den.

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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