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.
reports from whistleblowers that a whitetip shark died during the production of
a Kmart commercial, PETA is urging the chain to investigate the incident immediately
and to adopt a policy against using wild animals in its ads. According to the
whistleblowers, the 5-foot shark was flown from New York to Los Angeles on
March 6 and placed in a small above-ground pool in Van Nuys, California. Human actors repeatedly jumped in and out of the
pool during the shoot, which likely caused the animal to stress.
PETA was told that The American Humane Association
(AHA), which approved the script and was on set, allowed shooting to continue
for about an hour after the shark began exhibiting signs of stress. The shark
was then reportedly taken out of the pool and died later that day.
are delicate animals who, in captivity, require a highly specialized and
controlled environment. Sharks have exceptional sensory systems that allow them
to detect minute electrical fields and sense low-frequency sounds and
vibrations. The noise and chaos of a commercial shoot is a very stressful
environment for these sensitive animals.
Animatronic and CGI sharks have been in use for
nearly 40 years in films such as Jaws, Bait 3D, Deep Blue Sea, and Shark
Night. In addition to urging Kmart to adopt a
policy against using wild animals in its commercials, PETA is contacting the
AHA regarding its failure to protect the shark.
One animal death is one too many.
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.
Written by PETA
Highness of Halloween, Elvira, knows a
thing or two about fright. And there are few things that she finds as
terrifying as imprisoning
marine mammals in an aquarium and forcing them to
endure pounding music reverberating through their cramped tanks. But that's
just what the ghouls at the Georgia
Aquarium plan to do this
aquarium is apparently ignoring the complaint that PETA filed after the facility
hosted a recent event with loud music that was visibly distressing to the
marine animals, who are very sensitive to excessive noise. Elvira penned a
letter to the aquarium's president and COO, saying:
aquarium employees said that many of the confined wild animals become
aggravated and even fight when the music gets pumping—and they have no safe
room to escape to. This disturbs me more than Freddy vs. Jason."
the Mistress of the Dark will help the aquarium see the light.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Less than two weeks after four dozen wild and exotic animals
were shot to death in Zanesville,
there's still somebody out there who didn't get the message that privately
owning exotic animals is a recipe for disaster—and that somebody is Marian
Thompson, the wife of
the man who owned (and released) all the animals in the first place. Ms.
Thompson is demanding that four of the six survivors—a grizzly bear and three
leopards—in temporary quarantine at the Columbus Zoo, be returned to her
PETA has sent urgent letters to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (FWS) and the Muskingum County prosecutor imploring them not to return
the animals until investigations into whether the animals were harmed or
harassed in violation of the Endangered Species Act and/or Ohio's anti-cruelty
laws are conducted. It appears that the animals may have been obtained without
proper permits in the first place and that they were kept in filthy conditions
with insufficient food, water, and/or shade—all violations of the law. On top
of it, public records indicate that there are nearly $70,000 in liens hanging
over Ms. Thompson's head, leaving her ill-equipped to properly take care of the
While we continue to fight to keep the survivors safe, you
can help by e-mailing the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
to politely urge the agency to exercise its authority to implement emergency
regulations to prohibit the keeping of exotic and wild animals.
Written by Amanda Schinke
last week's killing of dozens of wild animals in Zanesville, Ohio, PETA
supporters gathered in front of the Ohio statehouse today calling on Gov. John Kasich
to ban ownership of wild animals as "pets" immediately, before other
tragedies occur. Earlier this year, the governor refused to extend an emergency ban on keeping
captive exotic animals that had been put in place by his predecessor.
a letter to Gov. Kasich,
PETA noted that there are at least 10 wild-animal facilities in Ohio that are accidents
waiting to happen. One facility in Massillon that holds more than 100 animals—including
tigers, lions, pumas, jaguars, bears, and wolves—was found this year to be
keeping tigers in an enclosure that had no top and was not tall enough to keep
the animals contained. Another facility, in Perrysburg, was found to be keeping
adult lions and wolves in enclosures that would not prevent them from jumping
dangerously lax laws about wild-animal ownership have already resulted in human
deaths, including a man who was mauled by a bear
kept by notorious wild-animal exhibitor Sam Mazzola.
To help prevent additional tragedies involving captive wild animals, click here to urge the Ohio Department of
Natural Resources to exercise its authority to implement emergency regulations prohibiting
private citizens from keeping wild animals.
Written by Heather Faraid Drennan
Less than a month after Tilly, an orca at SeaWorld in Orlando, attacked and killed his trainer, yet another story has emerged about captive animals who lash out against their imprisonment. In an upcoming episode of Fatal Attractions, a new Animal Planet miniseries about fatal attacks by exotic "pets," a woman named Julie Burros talks about how the black leopard she bought for $1,800 through a classified ad in a magazine nearly ripped her scalp off. While Burros escaped with her life, the leopard wasn't so lucky—he was shot and killed by police officers. Perhaps most shocking of all is that Burros says that she would "love to do it again" (by which we assume she means buying another leopard as opposed to nearly being decapitated).
Couple this with the story of the zoo patron who lost two fingers to a black bear, and this apparently needs to be repeated: There's a reason why they call wild animals "wild." That's where they belong, not locked up in a cage in a zoo, in a concrete swimming pool in a theme park, or in someone's backyard.
Written by Alisa Mullins
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.
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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.