Target: Barry and Collete Coggins, owners of Cherokee Bear Zoo
Goal: Shut down Cherokee Bear Zoo, where bears are kept in dismal and inhumane conditions
Bear Zoos are an iconic part of the tourist experience in many parts of the United States. Many of us undoubtedly visited them as children. What we did not realize then was how senselessly inhumane these attractions are. Stand up for animal rights and urge the shutdown of Cherokee Bear Zoo in North Carolina.
In their natural habitats, bears are astonishingly active creatures that can spend up to eighteen hours a day digging, foraging, roaming, and hunting. Additionally, bears have very specific seasonal routines–including hibernation, even in warmer climates–that may be interrupted when they are put on show for tourists.
Roadside bear zoos rarely cater to the bears’ needs. Instead of approximating the natural habitats and routines of the bears, these zoos often house the bears in concrete cells. Instead of providing these incredibly intelligent animals with mental stimulation through puzzles, games, or toys, bear zoos leave their inhabitants isolated in dismal living conditions.
Cherokee Bear Zoo is no different. In fact, it is particularly troublesome; according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the zoo has “been cited repeatedly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failing to meet minimal federal standards established in the Animal Welfare Act.” Bear zoos are bad enough on their own, but poor management compounds the problem.
In light of its poor track record with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the deplorable living conditions to which its bears are subjected, the Cherokee Bear Zoo should immediately seek new and appropriate habitats for the twelve bears it houses. Sign the petition and urge the management to do the humane thing and transfer the bears.
Dear Mr. and Ms. Coggins,
As you may know from observing them, bears are highly intelligent, curious animals that spend their lives in almost constant activity; in the wild, bears are active for up to eighteen hours a day. Such creatures require myriad sources of mental stimulation and large habitats in which to roam–neither of which is available to them at Cherokee Bear Zoo. I urge you to do the right thing and seek alternative habitats for the bears currently housed at your facility.
In nature, bears are able to dig, hunt, forage, and roam freely over long distances. But confined to cramped concrete enclosures, they get stressed and their behavior becomes increasingly erratic. As a result, many bears in roadside zoos spend their days pacing and turning in circles, which is neither entertaining for tourists nor beneficial for the bears themselves.
In light of Cherokee Bear Zoo’s unimpressive record with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its failure to comply with the standards set out in the Animal Welfare Act, something must be done. I urge you to do the right thing and transfer the bears in your care to a habitat where they will receive proper treatment, socialization, and mental stimulation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rochkind via Wikimedia Commons