Cherokee elders file appeal of Cherokee Bear Zoo animal cruelty court decision

Press release:

Members of Eastern Band Maintain That ‘Archaic’ Concrete Bear Pits Violate Endangered Species Act, Push for Bears’ Release to Sanctuary

Cherokee, N.C. — Last week, two elders of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Peggy Hill and Amy Walker, filed an appeal of the recent decision of the Western District of North Carolina in the elders’ case under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) against the Cherokee Bear Zoo (CBZ). Although the trial judge agreed that the virtually barren concrete pits at the CBZ are “archaic,” he found that the pits did not amount to a prohibited take under the ESA. As such, the elders’ appeal reiterates that keeping endangered grizzly bears in these undersized pits violates ESA’s prohibition against harming, harassing, and wounding protected animals, including those kept in captivity.

“The Endangered Species Act prohibits harming and harassing protected animals, and that should include stopping the deprivation and suffering on display in the tiny concrete pits at the Cherokee Bear Zoo,” says Walker. “These animals need and deserve to be moved to a large, naturalistic habitat at a reputable sanctuary, and we’ll continue to push for the court to make that happen.”

At the CBZ, four adult grizzly bears are denied everything that’s natural and important to them, including opportunities to den, the ability to escape confrontation with other bears, and being able to take shelter from inclement weather. Instead, these grizzly bears are confined to barren pits and forced to beg for food from tourists. The concrete pits at the CBZ are also a small fraction of the size of the area in which a bear normally roams in the wild. These deprived grizzly bears exhibit stereotypical behaviors, such as pacing, that indicate intense stress and psychological harm.

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About Max Hunt
Max Hunt grew up in South (New) Jersey and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2011. History nerd; art geek; connoisseur of swimming holes, hot peppers, and plaid clothing. Follow me @J_MaxHunt

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