ALDF Calls On Feds to Reconsider Protections for Workers Following Fatal Grizzly Mauling

Posted on May 2, 2013

For immediate release


Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

SAN FRANCISCO–Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a letter to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), urging the agency to reconsider a petition requiring effective physical barriers between all employees and all captive wild or dangerous animals on workplace premises. The letter comes one day after OSHA issued a citation and penalty notice to Animals of Montana, where a worker was fatally mauled while cleaning a grizzly bear enclosure last November. In October, OSHA rejected the physical barrier rule proposed by ALDF. Such a barrier would have prevented the death of both Benjamin Cloutier at Animals of Montana and SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed in 2010 when the orca Tilikum dragged her underwater in front of a crowd of spectators.

ALDF’s letter to OSHA follows. Copies of ALDF’s petition to OSHA, and of OSHA’s denial letter, are available online. ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system.

May 2, 2013


United States Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Office of the Secretary
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20210

RE: Permanent Occupational Safety Standard to Protect Workers from Captive Animals

Dear Secretary:

The Animal Legal Defense Fund calls again on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to adopt a permanent occupational safety standard that effectively protects workers from dangerous captive animals. ALDF makes this call in light of yet another workplace death in what has become a tragic routine. It was recently reported that captive bears fatally mauled an animal trainer cleaning a bear pen at Animals of Montana. OSHA’s own investigators concluded that his death would have been prevented if the bears were separated from the worker. However, the press reported that the Animals of Montana owner insisted that he would not use physical barriers.

In a grave lapse of judgment, OSHA rejected a rule proposed by ALDF last year that would have prevented the worker’s death. ALDF’s June 14, 2012, petition proposed that "[e]mployers must maintain effective physical barriers between all employees and all captive wild or dangerous animals on the [workplace] premises." OSHA denied ALDF’s petition on October 5, 2012, on the basis that the current system is adequate to protect employees working with dangerous animals. Benjamin Cloutier is dead because the current system is inadequate. How many more workers must die before OSHA will act?

ALDF implores OSHA to reconsider establishing a permanent occupational safety standard to protect workers from captive animals.


Stephen Wells, Executive Director
Animal Legal Defense Fund