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Urge Cherokee Elders to Keep Bear Pit CLOSED

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Originally Posted: March 2013

Urge Cherokee Elders to Keep Bear Pit CLOSED

[Ed. Note: VICTORY, July 2013 - With Bear Pit Closed, Animals Get Real Retirement]

FROM People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)


Background information here: Tell the USDA to Seize Abused Bears from Concrete Pit

Because of weather conditions, the tribal council postponed its deliberations on the closure of the decrepit bear pits in Cherokee, North Carolina, to this coming Tuesday, March 19. If you have taken action in behalf of the bears—who have been suffering in barren concrete pits for decades—thank you, and please be sure to pass this important and time sensitive information to your compassionate family members and friends. If you have not yet sent a note to the tribal council and Chief Michell Hicks letting them know that the pits must be closed, please do so now.

A lot of pressure is being put on the council to keep the bear pits open, despite the suffering and the fact that they stigmatize the entire tribe. Chief Michell Hicks and the council members need to hear from as many people as possible about the importance of closing the bear pits and sending the bears to reputable sanctuaries.

Please send polite comments to (copy and paste entire block of email addresses into the SEND field on your email):

[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

Please refrain from using the words "bear" and "Cherokee" in your e-mail subject line to avoid having your e-mail blocked.

Saunooke Bear Park captivity Saunooke Bear Park captivity

Saunooke Bear Park captivity


For decades, bears have been held in barren concrete pits and tiny cages, where they are forced to beg for food and are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them at roadside zoos in Cherokee, North Carolina. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has repeatedly cited these facilities for violating the minimum standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and the agency recently fined one of the facilities and suspended its license after charging it with more than a dozen violations, including feeding the bears inappropriate food, providing inadequate veterinary care and inadequate housing, and keeping incompatible animals together.

 A recent PETA investigation of one of the facilities revealed that staff members were deliberately depriving bears of food and that the animals are so stressed from being constantly confined to small concrete pits that they pace repeatedly and gnaw at the metal cage bars. PETA's investigation also uncovered drug use, wage-law violations, racism against Native Americans, and more.

These depraved exhibits are a black eye for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. These roadside zoos—operated on tribal land by non-natives, at least some of whom engage in discriminatory practices toward Native Americans and and all of whom cruelly keep bears in barren pits or tiny cages, contrary to the Cherokee tradition of respecting all life—are an affront to the tribe, and it's time that they be shut down once and for all.

And the tribe is considering doing just that! Tribal elders, after learning about the abuse and suffering occurring on tribal land, approached the tribal council about closing the bear pits. On March 19, the council will meet to discuss closing the bear pits and it is expected to vote on the matter shortly thereafter. But the bears need your help.  

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

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