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U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Washington, DC 20250
Visitors to a bear zoo on the Cherokee Indian Reservation were bitten by a caged cub on two occasions recently, renewing calls from animal-rights advocates to close the business.
The bear park has multiple animal exhibits, including an area near a gift shop where two cubs behind a chain-link fence can be hand-fed by people.
That was where the girl, estimated to be about 9 years old by the inspector, was bitten. A federal inspector watched as a 9 year old girl fed a mixture of Lucky Charms cereal and cat food to a six-month-old bear cub at Chief Saunooke Bear Park. The animal bit her, leaving tooth marks on her wrist
Other exhibits include bears in cement pits that can be fed by people dropping food into the enclosure. USDA inspection reports going back two years show citations related to overweight bears, cracks in the floors of the enclosures where bears live, and rusted doors leading to the bear dens.
"It's an outrageous situation and unbelievably cruel to the bears who are forced to be there," said Lisa Wathne, a captive exotic animal specialist for PETA.
Chief Saunooke Bear Park, is operated by Principal Chief Michell Hicks and stands on land owned by the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.
The park has been cited in the past. Please ask U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called to revoke the bear park's license to exhibit animals.
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