Force Shutdown of Inhumane Bear Zoos

Target: Eastern Cherokee Indian Tribal Council

Goal: Support the Council in shutting down the inhumane bear zoos on its Tribal land

Three “zoos” in North Carolina have been turning a profit by keeping bears tiny cages as a roadside attraction. These hotbeds of animal abuse have been mistreating wildlife for decades, but they can be stopped. Call on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who own the land on which the facilities operate, to shut them down.

Bears held in the three zoos — Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, and Santa’s Land — languish in small concrete pits or chain-link enclosures, pacing in constant agitation and gnawing on the metal fencing them in. The USDA has inspected these roadside operations numerous times, and all of them consistently fail to comply with the minimum humane standards for keeping an animal. One recently inspected facility was, among other violations, found guilty of feeding the bears inappropriate food, providing inadequate veterinary care, and keeping incompatible animals together.

According to a recent PETA article detailing an investigation into the subject, the inhumanity goes deeper still. “A recent PETA investigation of one of the facilities revealed that staff members were deliberately depriving bears of food,” wrote PETA in an action alert. The inspection also uncovered drug use, wage-law violations, and racism against Native Americans.

To the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the continued mistreatment of animals on their own land is an outrage. The Tribal Council has long yearned to shut the zoos down for good, but have been met with almost insurmountable outside pressure to keep them running.

In order to close down the operations, the Eastern Cherokee Indian Tribal Council needs as much support as it can get. Any and all voices raised in favor of eliminating the zoos will aid the Council in making a decision. Sign this petition and help the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians shut down the inhumane bear zoos on their land.


Dear Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council,

For too long, roadside bear zoos in North Carolina have been abusing animals. Every day they are violating animal rights laws, defacing the Tribal land and customs of your people, and creating a lifetime of suffering for the bears in captivity. Owned by non-natives and operating on your land, Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, and Santa’s Land must be shut down.

There has been tremendous pressure on your council to keep these facilities open, presenting an obstacle to their closure not easily overcome, but you must fight back against these demands. I send this message raising my voice to help you in this fight, and to provide more momentum in opposition to the zoos. I urge you to shut down the roadside pits of Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, and Santa’s Land.


[Your Name Here]

photo credit: Brent Moore via Flickr

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  1. J Davidson says:

    Abject abuse of both the animals and traditions of the native people who live in North Carolina.

  2. Brandon Taylor Brandon Taylor says:

    These facilities are on the brink of shut down, and have been for years. This is the kind of situation that just needs a little more push. Keep signing the petition guys, and thanks to those of you who already have!

  3. Let them out NOW!!!!!

  4. Valerie Maclean says:

    That’s how I feel, keep signing the petitions.What really surprises me is that the Indians would do such a thing and for what a few tourist dollars.

  5. It is surprising that Indians who have been noted for cherishing their land and animals, would allow for this appalling ill treatment to be exposed to their wildlife bears. Don’t let outside pressure (from non-native owners living on YOUR native land who have no respect in your customs and no respect or interest for the bears well being) deface YOUR tribal land by abusing these innocent majestic bears. You must not and will not tolerate anymore carelessness on YOUR Tribal land!

    We are now in the modern era and holding wild captive animals in small barren concrete pits in dire need of health care for only passerbys to gawk at, and used as an old primitive idea of the past as a money making gimmick, from owners who skate by in tending to the animal’s welfare, forcing them to live in catastrophe conditions, should now be a thing of the past. These sad and silly attractions should have been outlawed and banned years ago. For decades, bears have been living in horrid captivity, used as a roadside attraction and are deprived of EVERYTHING that is essential to them. The tide is turning for animals living in captivity and the public no longer wants to see animals living in these kind of conditions. We are now in the modern era and animal abuse will not be tolerated!

    These one stop animal attractions have done nothing to improve their conditions for the bears and ARE NOT GOING TO, until the law enforces them to do so. The owners do not hold up to the responsibility for providing the proper care and environmental basics of their daily needs these bears rightfully deserve. There are no rules at all at these one stop zoos for the modern ethical humane treatment the bears are in great need of thus giving the owners the out-of-date liberty to treat them in any way as they please. These animal pit attractions must be closed down.

    Roadside zoos send the wrong message for children seeing a sad unhealthy bear in captivity out of its natural habitat. They learn nothing about who the bear really is and lacks interest and respect on how bears should be treated. It is wrong to allow our children to think that bears used for roadside entertainment are living an acceptable life, when evidence for the opposite is overwhelming.

    The interests and well being of the bears used for a roadside park attraction will always be secondary to that of the profits the owners will make from using them for their profit only. It is appalling to see these astonishing, intelligent wildlife animals reduced to pacing in small circles for hours with broken down spirits begging for food from tourists, which the owners label as “entertainment.”

    “I expect to pass through the world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

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