Ask Cherokee to Close Cruel Bear Pits
- by: K.M.H.
- recipient: Michell Hicks, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
In the Qualla Boundary area of western North Carolina are three roadside zoos; Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, and Santa's Land, that keep bears in unnecessarily cruel and inhumane conditions. These Cherokee facilities keep bears in dank concrete pits and cramped cages, denying the bears the ability to exhibit natural behavior. The bears are endlessly pacing back and forth, crying out and whimpering, fighting with each other and begging tourists for food. Please sign the petition to encourage Michell Hicks, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to free the bears.
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I was horrified to learn about the conditions for captive bears in Cherokee. There has been no attempt to provide these animals with a natural habitat or environmental enrichment to satisfy their intense curiosity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited each facility with numerous and serious repeat violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and bear experts report that the animals are suffering.
When confined to barren enclosures without room to roam and with no opportunity to express natural behavior or make choices about their daily routines, bears quickly become stressed, frustrated, and bored. They often develop neurotic behavior. Captivity-induced neurotic behavior—such as pacing, circling, head-tossing, and begging—are signifiers of poor welfare and are displayed by virtually all the bears exhibited in Cherokee.
Please take action to help close the bear pits and transfer these animals to a sanctuary.