Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Bear Mountain Wildlife show at Erie County Fair condemned by ADI

Posted: 7 August 2014. Updated: 7 August 2014

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has condemned the appearance of the Bear Mountain Wildlife Show at Erie County Fair in Sandusky, Ohio stating how the animals in the act are forced to perform demeaning tricks and spend around 90% of their time in tiny, barren cages.

The appearance of the Bear Mountain Wildlife Show at the Erie County Fair this week has led to calls by ADI for event organizers to consider their animal welfare concerns and public safety worries and to call time on wild animal acts.

ADI investigation into the lives of the bears, owned and trained by Texas-based James and Tepa Hall, was released last fall. It revealed how the animals are dressed up in clothes, have muzzles strapped around their mouths and are made to dance and perform demeaning tricks, before returning to their transporter, where they spend around 90% of their time, caged in tiny cells.

Footage from the investigation, shot inside the bear transporter, shows a bear desperately circling its small steel cage, which is barren, with a scattering of sawdust on the floor.

ADI monitored the day to day life of the bears at circuses and county shows in five states – South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa – and found that the time the bears spent outside generally averaged just 10 minutes a day on weekdays and 20 minutes on weekends.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI: “The performance looks like something out of the middle ages and the way these animals are forced to live is like a medieval dungeon. These are some of the worst living conditions we have witnessed for circus animals. These poor bears, which are so intelligent and naturally inquisitive, are being stored for almost their entire time in what are little more than metal boxes.”

The bears – Syrian bears Giza, Zuzu and Nemo, and European brown bears Tutter and Nanook – are muzzled and led out on leashes for the performances. In an unnatural and demeaning display these intelligent and mighty animals are forced to walk on their hind legs, do handstands, dance, balance on a ball, ride a bicycle and a motorcycle.

After their sad outing they are led back to their trailer and caged again. The windows of the trailer are covered in thick steel mesh and are high above the bears’ heads so there is no view for them to look out upon. Conditions for the animals were stifling, with daytime temperatures during ADI’s observations ranging from the 80s to the low 90s.

For such intelligent and inquisitive animals, this is a tortuous way to live. Bear species are known to explore great distances each day and for their enjoyment of anything new and interesting. In zoos, bears have been found to suffer the adverse effects of captivity.

Jan Creamer: “These bears are suffering terribly and have been deprived of almost everything that is natural to them. It is urgent that federal measures are introduced to end the use of wild animals in traveling shows. As more and more countries around the world prohibit traveling exhibitions like this, the United States is steadily being left behind.”

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