In 2012, PETA conducted an undercover investigation at Chief Saunooke Bear Park (CSBP), a roadside collection of bear pits in Cherokee, North Carolina. CSBP confines bears to desolate concrete cells, where they are forced to beg for food and are deprived of all that is natural and important to them.
PETA's investigator found that the bored and frustrated bears turn endlessly in circles. One of them routinely rocks back and forth—a sign of profound deprivation and stress.They bite the pits' metal bars, which breaks their teeth. This is painful and can cause bone infections, so it requires veterinary care, but PETA's investigator never saw a veterinarian at CSBP and never saw the bears given any pain relief.
PETA's investigator also found cruelty:
- Workers sometimes leave the bears, who have a remarkably well-developed sense of smell, trapped amid their own waste all day long. Instead of removing feces, they spray a citrus-scented product into the pits. One worker told PETA's investigator, "You just got to be careful because [federal officials] think you're trying to hide something. Which we are."
- CSBP's manager and bear handler admitted that workers deny bears food because, "[i]f you feed them … they ain't gonna eat for people."
- The manager boasted that he sprays water at one bear "all the time … to get his ass up" and force him onto display.
- The park's bear handler said it took "20 shots … in the head" to kill one of CSBP's bears. He said that there is "[n]othing better than a bear that's been eating bread and apples all its life. Meat's good."