Back in medieval times, people would go to the Tower of London to gawk at the menagerie of bears, big cats, and other wild animals caged
there. It seems bizarre to house animals in a castle dungeon, but surely such
cruelty is a thing of the past, right? Shockingly, bears are still being housed
in similar dungeon-like
conditions
 right here and now—and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is dragging
its heels about bringing zoos out of the Dark Ages. So PETA has filed a lawsuit in an attempt
to force the agency to act

Life encased in concrete at Cherokee Bear Zoo

More
than a year ago, PETA submitted
a formal petition
 to the USDA urging the
agency to create specific standards for housing bears in captivity in light of
the fact that hundreds of bears are currently being caged in appalling
conditions at roadside zoos and other substandard facilities all over the
country.

Experts
now recognize that bears, who can live for several decades and naturally have
home ranges of hundreds of miles, are extremely intelligent and have complex
needs. In a study of 33 species in captivity, bears displayed the highest
frequency of stereotypic behavior such as pacing, a common indication of captivity-induced
mental illness.

A grizzly begs—for freedom?—at Black Forest Bear Park in Georgia.

Despite
recognizing that its standards must keep pace with the latest scientific
knowledge in order to best meet the intent of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the
USDA has completely ignored PETA’s 65-page petition, which includes specific
recommendations for fulfilling bears’ basic needs, such as providing nesting,
foraging, and denning opportunities and pools for bathing, as well as space
requirements.

That’s
why PETA filed a lawsuit charging the agency with violating the Administrative
Procedure Act, which requires that the USDA respond to a petition like ours “within a reasonable time.”
We think more than a year is long enough for the bears to wait.

What You Can Do

Please join PETA in urging the USDA not to waste any more time in formulating
bear-specific standards to be added to the AWA.

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Article source: PETA Action Alerts

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