Written by Michelle Kretzer
Benjamin Coultier was just 24
years old when he was mauled to death by a frustrated captive bear. He was cleaning the animal's
cage as part of his job at Animals of Montana, a company that rents out wild
animals for photo shoots as well as film and television productions.
had asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to
investigate because it appeared that the company's owner, Troy Hyde, had
allowed his employees to be in direct contact with the animals, in violation of
federal workplace-safety laws. Following PETA's request, OSHA found that Hyde had twice
violated the law. He had Coultier clean the bear's cage without first
moving the animals to a holding pen, which directly resulted in the young man's
death, and he failed to report the attack promptly after it occurred. An
investigation by state officials uncovered more problems at Animals of Montana,
including numerous unreported escapes and an attack on an employee by a
mountain lion. The employee sustained a gash in his head that went all the way
to his skull, but Hyde reported it as a "scratch."
OSHA wants to see Hyde pay the maximum
penalty for a small
company, a $9,000 fine. It would be a small measure of justice for the man who
lost his life and the bear who was gunned down after the attack.
What You Can Do
If you have witnessed unsafe or inhumane conditions at a
live-animal attraction or photo opportunity, please let PETA know.
As an organization
that celebrates education, the Smithsonian Institution should have been
To drum up
donations for the Smithsonian's
National Zoo, the organization threw
a fundraising party complete with wild animals whom partygoers were allowed to touch, hold, and take
pictures with. The cheetah, wallaby,
penguin, armadillo, and baby foxes were from the Columbus Zoo, which—catch this—rents the animals out for fundraisers
and other events. The National Zoo's mission is to demonstrate leadership in animal care and
to teach and inspire people to protect wildlife. It certainly fell short.
We have written to
the National Zoo and pointed out that wild animals naturally shun contact with
humans and become stressed and panicked when they are transported, thrust into
the midst of a loud party, and handled by strangers.
We also filed a
complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture because the cheetah with whom
people were snapping photos is 3 years old—much older than the age restriction of
3 months to which the Animal Welfare Act limits
dangerous big cats who are allowed to have
contact with the public.
If the Smithsonian
wants to live up to its slogan, "Seriously Amazing," it
needs to protect animals instead of using them as collection plates.
We're happy to report a favorable development in this case:
A court has denied a motion by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to
dismiss the lawsuit brought against the agency by PETA, the Animal Legal
Defense Fund (ALDF), and two Fayetteville-area residents seeking to overturn
the USDA's renewal of Jambbas Ranch Tours' license to continue to operate the
wretched roadside zoo that has racked up dozens of violations of the federal
Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
The ruling comes in the wake of the recent high-profile rescue of Ben the bear, who now resides in a spacious habitat at a sanctuary in
California, thanks to the ruling in the earlier lawsuit mentioned below.
PETA's challenge to the licenses will move forward, but the
animals at Jambbas have no time to lose—please urge USDA officials to revoke Jambbas' license
immediately and offer these animals the chance to live out their lives with the kind of
comfort and dignity that Ben now enjoys.
Originally posted on April 19th, 2012:
of Cumberland County, North Carolina, who are sickened by Jambbas Ranch Tours' pervasive neglect and abuse of animals have joined PETA and the Animal Legal
Defense Fund in suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over its renewal
of Jambbas' license despite chronic violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
AWA allows an animal exhibitor or dealer to have his or her license renewed only
if the person's business operates in accordance with AWA regulations. But the
USDA has repeatedly renewed Jambbas' license despite the fact that every single inspection of the roadside
zoo between October 2006 and January 2012 resulted in citations for AWA violations
including the following:
is the second pending lawsuit involving Jambbas Ranch. The other suit seeks to
have an abused bear named
Ben removed from Jambbas and relocated to a sanctuary where PETA has made arrangements
for him to live. In this sad video, Ben paces in his barren cage, bites the
chain-link fencing, pushes against it, and tries to reach under it—behavior a
bear expert has identified as a cry for help:
asking the USDA not to renew Jambbas' license, PETA also pointed out several
violations of the AWA that relate to Ben, including a lack of adequate space,
which is likely causing his repetitive, abnormal behavior.
is clearly not qualified to possess an AWA license. We will keep you updated as
the lawsuit progresses.
Written by Jeff Mackey
After the latest in a long, sad parade of attacks on humans by frustrated captive animals, PETA is submitting a complaint to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asking for an investigation and, if appropriate, citations. Benjamin Cloutier, 24, died after being mauled by two captive-bred grizzly bears in their enclosure at Animals of Montana, owned by Troy Hyde, which provides wild animals for photo shoots and film and television productions.
Humans, Wildlife, Cages, and Neglect: A Formula for Disaster
Direct contact between humans and wild animals kept in captivity is a known safety risk, as reflected in the string of prominent incidents involving captive animals, including bears, chimpanzees, elephants, and orcas, in recent years. Just two years ago, another 24-year-old man died after being attacked by a bear owned by Sam Mazzola.
Hyde previously had his Animal Welfare Act exhibitor's license suspended for two years after illegally trafficking in endangered tigers in violation of the Endangered Species Act, and now he appears to have violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires that Hyde furnish employees, like Cloutier, with a work environment free from recognized hazards. Cloutier's death could have been prevented if Hyde had employed the industry-standard "protected contact" system, which uses barriers and temporary holding cages to prevent direct physical encounters between bears and caretakers, effectively eliminating the likelihood of employee injury or death. Instead, with no such system in place, Cloutier endured violent trauma and died from massive blood loss.
Like humans, other animals are autonomous beings with their own needs and desires, not props for our amusement. Never buy a ticket to films that feature captive wild animals. And if you have witnessed cruelty or neglect behind the scenes at a film or television production, an ad shoot, a live-animal attraction, or a training facility, please let PETA know.
This time, the sad news comes from Japan: Pan-kun, a
well-known chimpanzee from the Aso Cuddly Dominion Zoo who is forced to dress
in costumes and perform for gawking audiences, erupted in frustration after a
show and violently
attacked a student trainee. Pan-kun remains at the zoo but has been "retired"
from performing. The young woman has been hospitalized.
Because chimpanzees, monkeys, and other nonhuman primates remind us of ourselves, we're fascinated to observe them—but incarcerating exotic animals far from
their natural environment and society can result in unpredictable and dangerous behavior.
We hardly needed yet another example of how the growing frustration of wild animals who are held captive and made to
do stupid tricks for our amusement under the threat of physical punishment turns
them into ticking time bombs.
But here it is. And there'll be more so long as we keep compelling smart,
sensitive, and complex animals to entertain us against their will.
You can help. Sign PETA's pledge never to support film and television productions that
exploit great ape "actors."
For decades, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) illegally
and quietly issued captive-bred wildlife permits—allowing circuses, roadside
zoos, and others to harm, harass, and wound captive-bred endangered species and
making it almost impossible to challenge these abuses. For example, one federal
judge wouldn't allow a former Ringling Bros. circus employee and a
coalition of animal protection groups to challenge Ringling's beating and chaining of captive-bred elephants because Ringling had a captive-bred wildlife permit.
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PETA sued the FWS in August 2011 over its decision to
secretly issue one such permit and ignore a requirement that the public be
notified of all permit applications. We asked the court to require the FWS to
make those applications publicly available and to consider public comments
before making a decision about whether to approve any application.
PETA prevailed in the lawsuit—the agency agreed to do just
that and to pay PETA's attorney fees. This victory will make it easier for PETA
to keep a closer eye on animals bred in captivity by Ringling, SeaWorld, Have Trunk Will Travel, and other animal abusers. It also enables PETA to weigh in on permit
applications and bring legal challenges against permits that are improperly
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To learn more about helping captive animals, head over to the "Animals Used for
Entertainment" section of PETA.org.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Could the Lake
Superior Zoo have taken steps to prevent the deaths of 14 animals, including a donkey, sheep, goats, a snowy owl, a
turkey vulture, and a raven, after their enclosures were engulfed in
floodwaters during a flash flood last week? PETA thinks so, and we sent
a letter to the Duluth, Minnesota, city attorney urging him to charge the zoo
mwanasimba|cc by 2.0
Minnesota's animal protection laws define "cruelty"
as "every act, omission, or neglect which causes
or permits unnecessary or unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death" and state
that anyone who deprives any animal of necessary shelter or causes or allows
any animal to be unjustifiably injured or killed is in violation.
In our letter to the city attorney, we pointed out that the
zoo had advance warning of the risk of flash flooding and that the same creek
that flooded the zoo had caused flooding at the facility two years ago.
These animals had no way to save themselves—they were at the
mercy of their caretakers, who let them down in the worst possible way. If zoos
are going to confine animals to cages so that people can spend a Saturday with
the kids gawking at them, the least that they can do is to make sure that the
animals aren't swept away in a flood while the people who are supposed to be
safeguarding them are safe at home in their beds.
the upcoming Disney flick LOL, Lina Esco plays Miley Cyrus' fearless BFF who always
speaks her mind. The role wasn't a stretch for Lina, who constantly looks for
opportunities to talk about the cause that is closest to her heart: getting
marine mammals out of captivity.
has helped create two stirring public service announcements about how marine parks such as SeaWorld abuse
animals and how the parks are responsible for Japan's dolphin slaughter. One of the ads features a talented group of kids, and the other boasts a who's who of Hollywood elite.
Now it's Lina who is in front of the
camera, starring in a video for PETA in which she asks her fans not to
patronize marine-mammal shows:
makes a difference because she is never silent. Whether the cause you
are most passionate about is ending the abuse of animals in marine parks, preventing animals from being
killed for fur, or getting great apes out of
laboratories, learn how you can "never be silent."
PETA is calling for a U.S. Department of
Agriculture investigation after D.J., a 15-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin,
was found dead on the
floor of his tank at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi. Trainers said that D.J., short
for De Janeiro, was acting unusual and not eating the day before he died. He is
the second dolphin to die
at the aquarium—Cobie, also just 15, died of pneumonia in 2007.
Docklands Tony|cc by 2.0In the wild, dolphins swim up to 100 miles per day in family pods or tribes of hundreds.
Untimely deaths are the rule for marine mammals in captivity.
At SeaWorld alone, between 1986 and 2011, 25 orcas died—and not one from old age. The unending and debilitating stress of captivity weakens
marine mammals' immune systems, causing them to die earlier than their wild
counterparts, who live for decades. Those who don't succumb to intestinal
gangrene, acute hemorrhagic pneumonia, pulmonary abscesses, chronic kidney
disease, chronic cardiovascular failure, septicemia, influenza, or other health
problems may take their own lives by hitting their heads against the sides of
pools or simply not coming up for air.
Please watch dolphins only at
the beach, not in tanks.
In a moving TV news report about two bear cubs orphaned near Cherokee,
North Carolina, who were rehabilitated and released into their native habitat, Cherokee Chief
Michell Hicks commented, "It makes you feel good to know that you were
able to help an animal that was in an unfortunate situation." PETA wants
Chief Hicks to feel even better, so we're asking him to help other bears in
unfortunate situations: those who are languishing in Cherokee's squalid bear pits.
three roadside zoos on the reservation—Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Park,
and Santa's Land—have all received numerous U.S. Department of Agriculture citations for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including failing to provide
veterinary care, feeding bears moldy food, exposing bears to electrical outlets
and sharp metal, and leaving bears' fur caked with feces.
But despite the citations, the bears are
still kept in barren concrete cages, where they exhibit neurotic behaviors
brought on by the stress of intense confinement, such as pacing, walking in
circles, crying, and begging tourists for food.
Hicks said the rehabilitation of the bear cubs showed the kind hearts of the
Cherokee people. Ask him to extend that compassion to all bears by working to close
the Cherokee bear pits and retire the animals to sanctuaries.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.