Target: Dr. Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Goal: Ensure that bears in roadside zoos and other facilities across the country are granted adequate living conditions
Bears and roadside zoos are well-known features of American cross-country road trips and family vacations, but the conditions endured by animals at roadside attractions and other facilities can be nothing short of traumatic and cruel. Sign the petition and urge the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use its power to secure adequate living conditions for bears in captivity.
In the wild, bears may roam over ranges of hundreds–or even thousands–of miles, reports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In tiny zoos, however, they are often confined to cages that constitute “near total sensory deprivation” and are unable to do much more than pace around their small living spaces. They will engage in erratic, unnatural behavior as a result of their captivity and poor conditions, and many do not even have access to such basic necessities as proper food.
A judge in North Carolina recently ruled that the conditions in which a bear named Ben was kept constituted animal cruelty. However, a USDA inspection prior to the ruling had deemed Ben’s concrete dog kennel an acceptable habitat for him. Clearly, there is a problem with USDA enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.
While Ben has been relocated to a natural sanctuary, many other bears are not so lucky. Sign the petition and urge the USDA to employ the full force of the Animal Welfare Act against inadequate bear habitats.
Dear Dr. Gipson,
Recent studies have shown that bears “are just as complex and intelligent as primates,” as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reports. Unfortunately, many bears are confined to inadequate habitats as parts of roadside zoos or similar attractions. I urge you to use the USDA’s power to enforce the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to its fullest extent, and to ensure that bears in captivity are provided with adequate nutrition, stimulation, and living spaces.
A recent case in North Carolina highlights the need for greater USDA enforcement of the AWA in regards to roadside zoos. A North Carolina judge ruled that a bear named Ben at the Jambbas Ranch roadside zoo was subject to “illegal cruelty to animals.” Ben was confined to a concrete dog run, but USDA inspectors apparently felt this was an acceptable habitat, as Jambbas Ranch had passed inspection.
In the wild, bears roam over ranges of hundreds or even thousands of miles, PETA reports. Confining bears to small spaces where they are not given room to explore, roam, and forage leads to erratic behavior and mental distress. I urge you to ensure that the USDA is doing all in its power to protect the well-being of captive bears, and to follow a strict and consistent policy for dealing with violators of the Animal Welfare Act.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Guitardemon666 via Wikimedia Commons