Freedom for Bears at Chief Saunooke Bear ParkPosted by Danny Lutz, ALDF Litigation Fellow on July 12, 2013
Great news has trickled out of North Carolina: Eleven bears have been removed from terrible conditions in gladiator-style bear pits and now inhabit a new sanctuary home.
The black and brown bears had long suffered at Chief Saunooke Bear Park, a roadside zoo that lost its license to exhibit, because of its multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Forced to live inside pits ranging from 300 to 1300 square feet and to beg for food from visiting humans, the bears exhibited signs of psychological harm, constantly pacing on abrasive concrete and repeatedly weaving their heads.
Though imprisoned, the bears had formidable support outside Chief Saunooke Bear Park’s walls. Years of local and national pressure and especially powerful advocacy by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alerted federal authorities to the terrible bear pit conditions. And earlier this year, we at the Animal Legal Defense Fund sent Chief Saunooke Bear Park a letter threatening to sue for its ongoing harm to the roadside zoo’s grizzlies. As a result, this bear story truly has a happy ending: the bears now roam the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, and Chief Saunooke Bear Park has shuttered its operations.
Our efforts to seek relief for these eleven bears is just one of many actions on behalf of bears. In another example, we brought a lawsuit that rescued Ben the Bear from a barren concrete cage and permanently transferred Ben to a sanctuary. We will continue to work to move bears from entertainment conscription to sanctuary protection.