Target: Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder
Goal: Don’t allow black bear cubs to interact with humans in petting zoos
The governor of Michigan recently approved a bill that will allow the existence of petting zoos for bear cubs. Zoogoers will be able to hold and feed the cubs, and take photographs of their experience. This kind of venue is dangerous for both bears and humans—it promotes animal abuse, misinforms the public about the danger of wild animals, and can spread disease.
Bears are still wild animals, and are therefore unpredictable. They are scared by large groups of people and by lots of handling, and there is no telling when a cub may scratch or bite. An injury from a wild animal, no matter how small, might cause disease or death. The practice is also dangerous for the animals. Bear cubs are not supposed to be removed from their mothers so early, and while being handled by a variety of different people, cubs could easily be exposed to intentional or unintentional abuse.
The animals in these zoos live in inadequate conditions, lacking proper housing, food, and care. There have been reports of bears being forced to live on “chains or tethers”. Besides the cruelty, bears might also spread disease. In 1999, a sick bear cub at a petting zoo caused over 150 people to need Rabies post-exposure shots, and in 2000, a bear cub in a Pennsylvania petting zoo “caused an outbreak of E.coli that resulted in 55 cases of the disease (mostly children), 16 hospitalizations, and one kidney transplant.” Bear petting zoos are dangerous and inhumane, and it is time to demand that they be outlawed.
Dear Governor Snyder,
The bear cub petting zoos that have begun to gain popularity in Michigan will only cause harm to both people and animals. Animal rights activists, environmentalists, and veterinarians all opposed the recently passed bill allowing the practice, and for a variety of reasons. Bear petting zoos are cruel for the animals, many of which have been baited out of the wild and are then kept in substandard conditions. Bear cubs are separated from their mothers prematurely, and are then handled by people who have no knowledge of how to properly hold a wild animal. They are subject to intentional or unintentional abuse at the hands of zoogoers, and live their lives in fear and under duress.
The practice is also dangerous for humans. Bears are unpredictable animals, and the large crowds and unfamiliar handling may cause a cub to scratch or bite someone. The cubs are strong, with sharp claws, and any injury done by them could cause disease or even death. Disease is a large problem with bear cubs. If they are exposed to so many people, sick bear cubs will spread illnesses across state lines. There have been a number of cases in which a serious illness affecting dozens of people is traced back to an infected bear cub at a petting zoo.
The danger and abuse that faces both humans and bears is alarming. The only way to prevent injury, disease, and harm from coming to either humans or animals is to prevent the execution of the recently passed bear petting zoo bill. The zoos must be banned in order to protect both humans and bears.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Guitardemon666 via WikiCommons