The Great Bear Show is a traveling act that drags bears from town to town in a tiny trailer, confines them to a makeshift outdoor cage, and forces them to perform confusing and uncomfortable tricks, such as rolling on a barrel.
A few months ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the show operator, Bob Steele, a barrage of citations for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act following a complaint submitted by PETA. Now, months later, it's still business as usual at the show, and many of the issues that we found persist.
Among the numerous violations, the USDA found the following problems:
- Steele was cited a third time for failing to provide a bear named Barney with adequate veterinary care for large patches of hair loss.
- The bears were denied the opportunity to express natural types of behavior and evade public attention. Barney and another bear, Cindi, were observed pacing, which, the inspector noted, "is an abnormal behavior pattern and can indicate stress, frustration or an underlying medical condition."
- Steele was again cited for endangering the public during bear photo ops in which the animals were separated from the public only by being positioned behind Plexiglas and chained by their necks to a chair.
Last month, a PETA eyewitness attended the show and found the bears in the same or worse condition, and no visual barriers in place to allow the bears to get some respite from being in view of the public. PETA has shared this information with the Hardin County Fair and Montana State University, at which The Great Bear Show performed, but the venues haven't agreed to not host the act in the future. Please join us in calling decisionmakers to cease giving financial support to this cruel exhibitor.
I was disappointed to hear that your fair allowed The Great Bear Show to perform—even after learning that the show's operator, Bob Steele, has a history of failing to provide a bear named Barney with adequate veterinary care and failing to handle bears safely.
As you know, bears traveling with Steele suffer greatly. All of them are overweight, one has a chronic skin condition, and two have been observed pacing, likely because of their inability to perform their most innate and natural types of behavior. Steele has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for putting bears and the public at risk.
[Your comments here]
Please prioritize animal welfare and public safety by refusing to host The Great Bear Show again, and commit to only wild-animal free entertainment moving forward. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.