Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More Info on the New Bears!


Abused bears to find recovery in Texas’ International Exotic Animal Sanctuary’s Emotional Enrichment Program; DFW now home to Texas’ largest collection of bears

BOYD, TX (July 9, 2013) – The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (IEAS) announced today that 11 bears from North Carolina will now call IEAS home; two Asian species (also called Moon) bears, six black bears and three grizzly bears. Until now, the bears have lived in concrete pits at a roadside zoo in North Carolina. As a result of continued complaints by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) over many years, and a 2012 PETA undercover investigation of the pits, the bears’ former owner was cited repeatedly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failing to meet minimal federal standards established in the Animal Welfare Act, and had its exhibitor license suspended in January. The bears will recover from that experience under the direction of the IEAS resident Animal Behaviorist with both Behavior and Emotional Enrichment Programs designed to care for the animals’ physical and emotional needs. The bears (known as the Cherokee bears) have been featured on internet campaigns for years by celebrities such as the host of the Price Is Right, Bob Barker, seeking to save these animals from their existence in pits of concrete, seeing only the sky directly above.

With the bears’ relocation, IEAS now houses the largest population of bears in Texas, and more species of bears than any other facility. IEAS is also the only facility in Texas housing Asian species of “Moon” bears, named for the white crescent moon shape in their fur across their black chests.

“We’re excited that these 11 bears are now free to live like bears here at International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. There is a subculture in the animal world that does things that are either frowned upon, inappropriate or actually illegal. Some places offer photo shoots at shopping malls and other events, allowing people (including children) to have their photo taken with a young cub for a fee such as $20 or more. Roadside zoos and attractions at truck stops and country stores use the bears to attract customers. As the bears grow, they become too large to be used profitably and that is when their lives are really in danger,” said Louis Dorfman, Animal Behaviorist and Chairman of the Board for International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. “We will make sure that they are not only physically well cared for, but that their emotional needs are met as well. But getting the bears to IEAS was just the beginning. The real work begins now and we need your help.  It’s only $125 per month to adopt one of these bears and that pays for their well-balanced meals, cleaning out their habitats, giving them fresh water every day, putting hay in their caves and helps with medical care. All assistance is appreciated.”

The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary will provide these bears with the best quality of life possible in large, naturalistic habitats. It’s a dramatic contrast from the life they knew before,” said Richard Gilbreth, Executive Director of International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. “Thanks to dedicated employees, contractors and volunteers working seven days a week, each habitat is over one acre in size and provides the resident bears with a natural home, complete with innumerable trees to climb, brush and thickets to venture through, and even ponds and water tubs where they can cool off. The team placed 2.5 miles of piping and put up 1.5 miles of fencing to prepare space for these bears and they are responding well. They are already forming companionships with each other.  While bears are considered solitary animals in nature, at the sanctuary they play with each other frequently and truly enjoy the company of their companions and human caregivers. In the summer months, bears like lying in the large stock tanks filled with water and enjoy scouring the woods and thickets they have present in their habitat to find treasures like twigs, leaves, small insects and even grasshoppers. Their diets are very similar to that of humans. They enjoy meat, fish, and all varieties of fruit and vegetables, with some of their favorites being avocados, grapes, peanuts and watermelon.”

“PETA fought for many years  to free these bears from the barren concrete pits and a non-life that drove them mad and deprived them of everything natural and nice,” said PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “We are so happy that they can finally just be bears in a caring, permanent home at International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. What a wonderful moment for these bears!”

Care for the bears is paid for by donations. It costs approximately $125 per month to adopt a bear and ensure it has adequate food, a healthy living environment and medical care. To learn more about each individual bear and to donate to the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, please visit www.bigcat.org/donate. To adopt an animal, please visit www.bigcat.org/adopt-an-animal. All donations are 100% tax deductable.

About International Exotic Animal Sanctuary
The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary is the only Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited animal sanctuary in the United States. The purpose and goal of IEAS is to provide a permanent sanctuary for exotic animals that have been abused, abandoned, neglected, confiscated, or previously owned by people unwilling or unable to provide for these magnificent beings. IEAS gives the resident animals the best quality of life we can give them in captivity through our Emotional Enrichment Program, which deals with the emotional well-being of each individual animal and its individual emotional needs. We do this to fill the need to reduce stress and agitation, give each animals the best life it can have in captivity, and by understanding what is required to achieve that goal. Currently, 46 felines, 2 coatis and 28 bears call IEAS home, with spacious habitats, pools and houses. To learn more about IEAS, or to make a donation, adopt an animal, please visit www.bigcat.org.

Media Contact:
Kristin Welsh


  1. Are there any pictures or videos of the bears in their new home?

  2. Thank God for the Benefactor that paid the cruel "owners" in Cherokee for the release of these beautiful, sentient beings! Thanks to Peta, Bob Barker and all those who protested, petitioned, wrote letters and actively worked to free these bears from the horrific, inhumane conditions in the concrete pits they were forced to live in for so many years. I look forward to seeing more photos and reading more updates on their health, welfare and progress from International Exotic Animal Sanctuary! A vegan for life from Asheville, NC.

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