By John Boyle
The Chief Saunooke Bear Park generated multiple protests by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, including a visit by former game show host Bob Barker, a PETA activist. PETA has lobbied heavily for the closure of the park, which they say is long overdue because of the inhumane conditions the bears are kept in.
“We’re very pleased this step is being taken and they’re being held accountable for the long-standing abuse and neglect of bears,” said Delcianna Winders, foundation director of captive animal law enforcement at PETA. “Ultimately, the bears need to come out of those pits.”
The park previously was cited for failing to maintain adequate barriers between visitors and the bears. Last year, PETA posted billboards calling the bear zoos “prisons” and noted in news releases that in two cases visitors had been bitten, including a 9-year-old girl who was feeding a bear cub Lucky Charms cereal and cat food.
For more on the Cherokee bear parks, see "Children Bitten" on PETA Billboard and Bear Pits = Boarding Schools.