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Ben the Bear: From Roadside Hellhole to Sanctuary

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Ben the Bear: From Roadside Hellhole to Sanctuary

[Ed. Note: See original Alert, Save Ben the Bear!. THANK YOU for taking action]

From People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)
August 2012

From PETA:

After a long and hard-fought battle by PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and concerned citizens, "Ben the Bear" has been rescued from abhorrent conditions at a North Carolina roadside zoo and will now live out the rest of his life at the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), a beautiful accredited wildlife sanctuary in northern California.

Ben,bear, roadside zoo, sanctuary

Before his relocation, Ben spent six long years imprisoned at Jambbas Ranch. Deemed nothing more than "Attraction no. 2" and locked away in a small kennel, Ben was deprived of even the most basic necessities. His world consisted of nothing more than a barren 12-foot-by-22-foot concrete floor and a chain-link fence with an old bowling ball and some moldy stumps of wood. He was fed dry dog food, which his "caretakers" dumped onto the same concrete floor where he urinated and defecated. His interaction with others was limited to being gawked at by passersby, listening to screaming children, and getting the occasional piece of bread tossed to him by a tourist.

Ben spent his waking hours pacing, a result of profound deprivation and a sign of chronic distress. Two concerned citizens saw him and agreed to take action. With our help, they filed a cruelty-to-animals lawsuit. Their case was heard by Cumberland County Court District Judge Kimbrell Tucker, who saw that the evidence was clear: Ben's needs were "not being met dietarily, veterinarily, and, most importantly, environmentally." The judge stated that Ben's enclosure did "not meet the requirements … for this bear's health and well-being." She issued a preliminary injunction that allowed PETA to transfer Ben to California pending her final ruling in the case. A happy day!

FedEx immediately agreed to help fly Ben across the country for free. His safety and comfort were essential, and PETA made sure that he traveled in climate-controlled transport trucks to and from the airport and was accompanied by a transport team—veterinary expert Mel Richardson, Ed Stewart from PAWS Sanctuary, and PETA attorney Carney Anne Chester—throughout the trip. The flight crew cheerfully dubbed their mission "Bear Force One."

When Ben explored his vast new, spacious habitat for the first time, he pawed at and smelled the ground—likely the first time he had ever felt grass beneath his paws. Within minutes, he was already bathing and splashing in his own pool, ridding his body of grime for the first time in years. That night, he slept soundly on a comfortable bed of fresh hay and natural foliage.

On August 27, the court ruled in Ben's favor, and thanks to the judge and all those who worked hard to make it happen, the sanctuary is now his permanent home. Ben will continue to bask in the sun, roll in the grass, splash in the water, and act on his natural instincts to forage, explore, and hibernate in a 2-acre habitat designed especially for him. For the first time, Ben will finally get to live like a bear.

Ben's rescue would not have been possible without the support of caring PETA supporters like you! Please help us save more animals by supporting PETA's Investigations & Rescue Fund today.

From Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF):

Lawsuit Against Jambbas Ranch Means New Life for Bear Who Had Languished for Years on Cement in Chain-Link Kennel

Fayetteville, N.C. — Cumberland County District Court Judge Kimbrell Tucker, in a lawsuit brought by concerned North Carolina citizens represented by PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), and local counsel, has signed a permanent injunction that allows a bear named Ben—who had been confined to a barren concrete cage at Fayetteville-based roadside zoo Jambbas Ranch Tours for six years—to reside permanently at the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California, where he can forage, swim, and build his den under trees.

Ben lived in solitary confinement at Jambbas Ranch, which caused him to suffer physically and psychologically. He was denied everything that is natural and important to bears. Judge Tucker entered a permanent injunction that ended Jambbas' ownership of Ben and awarded permanent ownership and custody to PAWS. Ben was flown to California via a FedEx climate-controlled plane on August 9 after Judge Tucker issued a preliminary injunction. The permanent injunction also forbids Jambbas from acquiring, owning, or possessing any bears in the future; seeking any state wildlife captivity licenses or endangered species permits relating to owning or possessing any bears; and using Ben's former concrete cage as the primary enclosure for any wild or exotic animal.

At the PAWS sanctuary, Ben is thriving in a vast natural habitat—one that is measured in acres, not feet and inches—where he bathes in his own pool, rubs his back on trees, and sleeps soundly in his large straw nest under oak trees.

"Ben now has the chance to live like a bear again, finally able to roam, play, and forage," says General Counsel to PETA Jeffrey S. Kerr. PETA's local counsel, Calley Gerber, adds, "Today's news ushers in a victory for animals across North Carolina who are confined in similarly cruel conditions."

ben, bear, roadside zoo, sanctuary
Ben in his new clean pool, able to clean himself thoroughly for the first time in years!

ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells says, "Ben's treatment was cruel and illegal under North Carolina law, and the court stopped it, plain and simple." Adds ALDF local counsel, Gavin Parsons, "We're very pleased with the court's order and wish Ben well in his new home."

Video footage of the transfer and of Ben in his new habitat at PAWS is available upon request.