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August 4, 2009

LKL WEB EXCLUSIVE: Bob Barker - "I'm Not an Expert on Bears, I'm an Expert on Giving Away Refrigerators"

Posted: 10:32 AM ET

Editor's Note: LKL has reached out to "Cherokee Bear Zoo" for a response to this commentary.  So far, our calls have not been returned.

Cherokee's Unbearable Bear Pits

By Bob Barker

Even though my life has been full of incredible experiences and I've learned that there's always more on the horizon, I never imagined I'd be writing a blog post for CNN at the age of 85. But when I was asked to write about my work for animals and my recent campaign to free some bears who are living in appalling conditions in Cherokee, North Carolina, I knew it was time to ask Debbie Leahy of PETA to help me with my computer skills.Bob-Barker

Knowing about my love for animals, a few months ago my good friend Rep. Bill Young of Florida called me about an unfortunate experience that his family recently had involving caged bears. His wife, Beverly, had taken their children and grandchildren to Cherokee to educate them about life on a reservation. Being part Native American myself and having grown up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, I appreciated their interest in Indian culture.

Beverly saw a sign that said, "Come Feed the Bears," so they stopped at a roadside zoo. She described what she saw as "sickening." There were six to seven bears in concrete cubicles. Their fur was hanging off, they were begging for food, and an employee was tossing one bear cub around by the scruff of his neck. Beverly said she had an uncomfortable confrontation with the person who was mishandling the cub and was asked to leave. I remember her saying, "The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are treated better than these bears, who have done nothing."

I contacted my friends at PETA, and they sent a staff member and a bear expert to investigate. They reported that the situation was much worse than what the Young family had witnessed. There are actually three roadside zoos in Cherokee—Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park and Santa's Land. They house close to 30 bears in unimaginably awful conditions. The bears are confined to desolate concrete pits or cramped cages where they often pace back and forth, walk in endless circles, get into fights with each other, cry and whimper and beg tourists to throw food at them. They have no dirt to dig in or trees to climb—just the same four walls every single day of their lives.

Accompanied by representatives from PETA and the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California, I went to Cherokee to appeal to Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to intervene in behalf of these beautiful animals. Before the meeting, I planned to visit these zoos to see the conditions for myself. I guess the owners of the two facilities where bears live in pits were too ashamed to let me see what was going on there because they refused to let me in.

I told Chief Hicks that I'm not an expert on bears. I'm an expert on giving away refrigerators. But I can tell you that these bears are not properly housed or fed. Cherokee has a rich cultural history and much to be proud of. The cruel bear displays are a glaring blemish on the area, and I hope that the members of the Tribal Council for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will open their hearts and do the right thing by shutting them down.

The good people of Cherokee welcomed me warmly, and many told me they agreed that the bears are kept in deplorable conditions. Bears are very intelligent, active and curious animals. They need room to roam, natural surroundings to investigate and opportunities to forage, climb and dig dens.

Earlier in my career, I hosted a show called Truth or Consequences. I closed the show by saying, "… hoping all your consequences are happy ones!" I hope with all my heart that Chief Hicks and the tribal council will make the consequences for the Cherokee bears happy ones. Until then, my heart and my conscience won't allow me to do anything but ask people to stay away from Cherokee and voice their support for allowing the bears to retire to a sanctuary.

To learn more about how to help these bears, please visit PETA.org.

Filed under: Bob Barker • LKL Web Exclusive


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D R   August 4th, 2009 12:03 pm ET

I just came back from visiting a place just like this in the Eastern Band Cherokee reservations on my way back from the Biltmore in NC. On the way back we stopped at a place where they keep these bears. They even have a sign out front that says if you are a member of PETA that you are not allowed in. I didn't understand why till I walked in and could see how the bears were kept. I started crying. I did take pictures of the bears. They were way too thin and just in an small area with nothing but a concrete slab to stay on. They have NO room at all, no grass, trees, etc. I so wanted to help them. They have this one baby bear to take pictures with they kept on a harness.


Dave   August 4th, 2009 12:22 pm ET

Go away Bob! I love how vulgar a picture he paints. He lied in the papers here saying they were kept this way 24/7 when they aren't. The reservation keeps them up to federal standards. But again, this is a reservation that the federal government should have no authority over.


Darryl   August 4th, 2009 12:23 pm ET

Where is the crying first nations person now?


A. Herron   August 4th, 2009 12:41 pm ET

It troubles me that in a country where it a multi-million dollar business to care for our pets that we would treat others with such harm. Gatlinburg, TN has also been known to have "bear dens". I don't condone nor support them. Is there not any law about keeping wild animals or at least wild animals in such horrible conditions? Do these animals not have rights? What can we do as concerned citizens?


RedinPhoenix   August 4th, 2009 1:11 pm ET

To Mr. Barker and commenter "D R" – thank you for speaking out for these beautiful gifts from God. Real change can come when people with courage and compassion speak the truth and implore others to make a difference.

I haven't seen this addressed: Would the Cherokee people be willing to improve the living conditions of these bears on the land they have now if a group of people financed and constructed better housing for these bears? Is this even a viable option? Please let us know....

Mr. Barker, you blog has sprouted wings and soared all over the internet. The internet is such an amazing platform to change the lives of all of God's creatures. Your story is all over the internet! Thank you so much!


J in NC   August 4th, 2009 1:16 pm ET

I live about 20 miles from cherokee and the bears are kept in sad condition. I wish they would close them down and put the bears somewhere they can be happy, and have grass and room to roam.
But they will keep doing it as long as they make a buck at it.. so everyone should stop going to these places.
Its very sad that we treat animals this way!


Jerry   August 4th, 2009 1:25 pm ET

Dave.
In many discussion with my friends I agree with you and argue on behalf of the reservations autonomy in many aspects. However, this topic would not be one of them.
Now, you say that these animals are not kept this way 24/7 like that is a good thing. So, if an animal is kept this way 10 hours a day that would be OK? The fact of the matter is that no animal deserves to be kept this way for one moment.
Incase memory fails me, Native Americans have always held animals in the highest regard. In fact many animals represent spiritual meanings. Perhaps the people running these places need to be reminded of this important part of their history.


Your Lips   August 4th, 2009 1:42 pm ET

Bob ~
Get over yourself. I have been to the largest of the bear parks in Cherokee. The bears are not overcrowded, have plenty of room and places to climb. Each bear area actually has a swimming pool that the bears use to keep cool or play. The park was educational, well kept and clean.
Leave these people alone, next thing you know, you'll want to have a treaty with them and then swoop in and take their land...


Cindy   August 4th, 2009 1:54 pm ET

Go away, Dave!


Jon War   August 4th, 2009 2:03 pm ET

I appreciate people who are looking after animals but sometimes Peta is not really the best spokesperson for animals. I live in Edmonton Canada and one of our Elephants is old living here for 3o+ years and Bob and his crew were pressuring our Zoo to move him but the move would most likely kill him and is this in the best interest of the animal ????


S. Davis   August 4th, 2009 2:04 pm ET

i grew up in this area and have been disgusted by these activities forever. it has always been cruel, no matter how "well they are kept" or in what manner. however, knowing some of the people that live in those mountains the way i do, the bears are safer in there than out (sadly enough).


I. Clark   August 4th, 2009 2:11 pm ET

I started to feel badly about this situation until I read where PETA is involved. I will never believe anything PETA is involved with. PETA is harmful to all to animals – they lie. If they get their hands on these bears – the bears will be put to death not removed to a sanctuary – never support PETA.


Chris   August 4th, 2009 2:11 pm ET

There is also another place like this in Pigeon Forge Tennessee at a place called the 3 Bears Gift Shop. I have written countless letters to the Mayor, the owner of the store, the department of tourism, and I even tried Dolly Parton since she is from Pigeon Forge all to no avail. I don't know why this is even legal, to be able to keep these wild animals caged up and I really wish something could be done. The owner of the store has been fined numerous times for not meeting the MINIMAL requirements to take care of these animals, but he just keeps paying the fine because he makes so much money off of them.


Liz Whitney   August 4th, 2009 2:12 pm ET

Bob Barker – Thank you for your genuine concern for the welfare of these beautiful bears. We must all speak up and take action. I will vow to do my part through PETA.org. God bless you.


Jeannie Thyroff   August 4th, 2009 2:28 pm ET

Thank you Bob Barker for your concern over all animals. They have no voice, so we must speak out for them. No living thing should be kept in such deplorable conditions I hope and pray that enough people will band together to be able to do something to rescue these animals. I can't even imagine what they are going through-they are living creatures, so they do feel pain, discomfort and fear, just as we do.


John M   August 4th, 2009 2:28 pm ET

I just called the place asking how the bears are kept and asked if they have any interaction beside in the horrid cage they are kept in, the guy said who is this i said John, he asked John who i then said I do not need to give out that information he said then i dont have to tell you that information, i said I was just wondering the safety for these bears and i got a do not call back here again ( click )


Debbie   August 4th, 2009 2:29 pm ET

Thank you Bob for all you do for the animals, but as long as PETA is involved, you will meet much resistance in getting the bears the help they need. PETA kills dogs and only paid a fine for "littering" in North Carolina where they dumped the bodies. They have no credibility with true animal lovers. I have seen these pitiful bears in Cherokee and Pigeon Forge when our children were little and we went there on vacation. We quit going there because it made my kids sad to see a bear live like that. I would hope that there would be some federal laws against this cruelty.


Bella Koh   August 4th, 2009 2:32 pm ET

People need to be educated about what they consume.
What are in fact zoos, circuses, leather goods or factory farms?
Inhumane acts are usually brought about by ignorance and greed.
In which we, the consumers become indirect causes of such intolerable acts. We ought to start educating the young and it has to being this very instance.


Viv   August 4th, 2009 2:56 pm ET

Debbie – do you know how many shelters and animal controls and clinics also euthanize dogs and cats? do you think they all get burials? No. they are either dumped in a landfill or incinerated. Are you a 'true animal lover' who also eats animals like so many claim to be?

Peta DOES care about animals. I don't agree with every single thing they do, but they accomplish more for animals than any other group.


Teresa   August 4th, 2009 3:16 pm ET

I thank you Bob so much for standing up those that do dot have a voice. However having them put in a bear sanctuary isn't good either. Hunters come in using their dogs to hunt and maim the bears. I have saved many dogs from our local sanctuary at Fires Creek in Clay county N.C. Bears don't have a chance in a sanctuary until the gov. starts doing something about hunting bears and boar with dogs. A bear sanctuary is supposed to be just that for the bears. A sanctuary! Not hunting grounds for hunters and their mistreated dogs. I wish PETA would get on to that. Tons of dogs and bear are killed every year inhumanly and illegally. I wish someone would help with this MAJOR carnage at fires creek . It a beautiful bear sanctuary for people and bears to enjoy. Yet the bears and dogs are suffering at the hands of local hunters.


Debra   August 4th, 2009 3:37 pm ET

I just returned from a trip to the Smokey Mountains on the Tennessee side. My family and I saw 3 adult Black bears and 3 cub bears in their natural habitat near Townsend, Tennessee. It breaks my heart to think of the Black Bears caged with little or no food . I agree with (J in NC) .... once we stop patronizing these disgusting businesses, it would stop the abuse of the animals. If you want to see beautiful Black Bears take a trip to the Smokey Mountains, visit the park, Cades Cove, trails and surrounding area . There are over 1600 Black Bears in the Smoky Mountains. Please save our wildlife.


Donna Bell Knox   August 4th, 2009 3:56 pm ET

It sickens me to read about the conditions those poor animals were living in. And to think that Beverly Young stopped at the "Zoo" with the intention of showing her children / grandchildren something as beautiful & magestic as bears living in a safe & nuturing habitat. The scene that she described was simply heartwrenching. I thank God for kind, caring, respectable, "action taking" people like the Youngs, Bob Barker and Mr. Larry King for bringing this story to the public. Without shedding light on tragedies such as this... darkness would continue for those bears. I hope there's a "happy ending" to this story in the near future. Signed: a caring Canadian fan, Donna Bell Knox


Jack Phoenix, AZ   August 4th, 2009 3:57 pm ET

Stop going to ALL Indian Casinos and stop visiting their stores and exhibits. Maybe money earning tribes can influence them.


Steven   August 4th, 2009 4:00 pm ET

PETA may have been established from good intentions but I think these days many people view them as a domestic terrorist organization. I have the same reaction as a number of other folks when I see PETA associated with anything – immediate distrust. I don't blame the bear torturers from barring PETA from their critter prisons, but attacking the animal mistreaters is wrong headed when what they are doing is legal. What you need to do is change the laws.


palebluelight   August 4th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

It,s funny that these "natives"are raking in money at the casinos,but do little to help a large group of their own people.Just another case of the Whites man greed and how we affect every one we touch.


Linda Mc   August 4th, 2009 7:23 pm ET

Thank you Bob for letting us know about the bear situation in Cherokee, NC. I assure you, I won't be spending my money in Cherokee anymore! This has made me sick!


Susan   August 4th, 2009 7:25 pm ET

I'm not surprised that animals are treated as they are. Look at what we do to our children. When the piper has to be paid, shame will not be good enough.


Pat Smith   August 4th, 2009 8:14 pm ET

Thank you, Susan
Let's look at how our children are treated and if there is enough ltime left, then we will worry about bears.


Susan   August 4th, 2009 9:26 pm ET

I understand your point Pat but it shouldn't have to be a choice. I believe we have an obligation as the "intelligent" species to make sure no living creature suffers.


Nae Lynn   August 4th, 2009 9:50 pm ET

I live less than 5 miles from all three of these bear places in Cherokee and I have lived here all my life. Yes, the bear conditions are bad but what is worse the reservation's response to Mr. Barker. This is Chief Michele Hicks response in the Asheville Citizen Times to Barker & PETA "I am going to ask council if any further complaints about PETA coming to the boundry and doing what you guys have been doing I am going to ask you to be banned." He also stated Barker isn't welcome back here and if the tribe looses money it will be all his fault. That's right blame an 85 year old man for your problems even though Swain County has over 9% unemployment. Their casino has been laying off people as well. He also refered to the fact that the Cherokee Indian Reservation was in a sovereign nation. Didn't know we had a country within the US. I'm sorry the tribe does have the money to help these bears. They won't. Come to Cherokee and look at what the tribe is spending all their money on it ain't better habitat for animals. The casino is expanding though. I hope the press picks up on this and goes with it. PETA can dome some damage just ask the fur industry and KFC. The tribe thinks the are invincible when it comes to this issue. There are so many people from FL that come here and visit and for a FL congresman's wife to start all this. I commend her and Bob both. It's about time someone took on the tribe and the bears. Both need some serious help. So I say stay away from both as a local. GO BANNED BOB GO!!


Paige   August 4th, 2009 10:07 pm ET

Thank you Bob Barker!

Dispicable and deplorable conditions for any living thing!!


Cloud Dancer   August 4th, 2009 10:08 pm ET

I too am Native American, Georgia Cherokee lineage to be specific. I too love animals, all of our pets are rescues. About 14 years ago I went to Cherokee, NC and visited one of the "bear pits" as I call them. It devastated me, I absolutely couldn't believe what I was seeing. I tried to think of ways to sneak back in and let them all out that night. I wasn't thinking of myself and how dangerous it could've been. I just wanted them out of there!
I applaud Mr Barker and PETA for their efforts. I have felt this way for years, hopefully the powers-that-be in Cherokee will do the right thing!

Theresa Buchanan
Belton, SC


Sandra   August 4th, 2009 10:09 pm ET

Thank you Mr. Barker for all you do for the animals. The animals do not have a voice. I also praise Mr. King for bringing this to our attention, as he has done in the past regarding animal rights.


Laura Hailey   August 4th, 2009 10:14 pm ET

I think this is a perfect example of the perfect opportunity to ask ourselves...'what does it take...just what is it inside US that makes us uniquely supreme to all beings?'


Cynthia   August 4th, 2009 10:15 pm ET

Horrible conditions, glad they are being exposed... Wish the bears could put their captures in a cage for a few days and see how they liked it....


sheila ward   August 4th, 2009 10:44 pm ET

Bob,

Thank you for your interest in the plight of the bears here in NC. I
am hopeful because of your celebrity status, these individuals
will take note. The conditions you describe are horrific at best.
But here in NC we are years/ decades even behind much of the
country when it comes to the treatment of our animals. Please
keep interest focused here, Bob, as that is the only way the
situation can change. And thank ou again for all you do for the
animals.


Beth Levine   August 4th, 2009 10:56 pm ET

As a citizen of NC, I am ashamed and appalled that bears, who are native to our state, are kept in such deplorable conditions. Anyone who supports the bears being kept in captivity only cares about money, not the bears. Bears are not here for us to use as entertainment. These bears should be released to the wild, being watched over by responsible people to make sure they have adequate food as they adapt to being on their own. Anything less is shameful! Thank-you, Bob Barker, for speaking up for the animals. There are many other animal advocacy organizations in addition to PETA that would fully support what Bob Barker is saying.


Sandra   August 5th, 2009 12:00 am ET

Thank you Mr. Barker for speaking up for animals. I also applaud Mr. King for the many times he has brought to our attention the many issues regarding animal rights. I rarely see this on other stations. Mr. King, you are the best!


Marsha   August 5th, 2009 12:31 am ET

thank you bob for speaking out against the terrible conditions you witnessed. I'm not a fan of PETA but somebody needs to help stop the treatment awful treatment of the bears. Bears do not belong in cages to beg for food. I've been to PAWS and it is a wonderful sanctuary. They do much good for all animals and if they say the bears are in such terrible conditions then this is the truth.


Teri   August 5th, 2009 1:18 am ET

Go Bob, help these bears as it appears that their "owners" won't!! What can we do? I don't support PETA and won't support PETA, but I agree bears can't be treated like this.


peggy   August 5th, 2009 7:18 am ET

Why is this allowed to happen? How can this happen? Something has to be done Now!
Here in France there is now running on television a piece about the MOON BEARS in Asia..This is another injustice done to animals!
Please also take a look at this..
Thank you Bob Barker for writing this blog..HOPE it does some good.


simone minihane   August 5th, 2009 10:52 am ET

If someone as powerful as Bob Barker can't do anything to help the helpless bears, who can?? Keeping the public away from the bears won't help to feed them. They will be left unfed. I hope there is a hell for those willfully negligent people, but that doesn't help the innocent bears now. Simone.


Adam Franklin   August 5th, 2009 10:52 am ET

I. Clark,

Really? You never believe anything that PETA is involved in? Are you incapable of researching these issues on your own and arriving at the same conclusion that PETA arrives at? This kind of knee jerk reaction is expected of an adolescent, but i assume you are a thinking adult.

So sad that there are people out there like you who refuse to see reality and make blanket decisions such as yours.


Anna   August 5th, 2009 11:01 am ET

These bears need our voices, as do the Moon Bears in Asia! There are 7,000-10,000 moon bears in captivity in Asia in the most deplorable conditions known to man. Bears are kept in crush cages the size of their own bodies for DECADES (yes, decades) with a catheter crudely implanted into their gallbladders. They are milked for their bile all in the name of ancient Chinese medicine. Go to animalsasia.org and help free them! As for the bears in NC, only WE can free them, as they cannot speak for themselves!


John   August 5th, 2009 11:09 am ET

Wow I love how this article really tells what Bob Barker is preaching. If half of you people knew what he said to, and said about us here in our local papers we are the ones being abused not the bears. One of our council members asked him streight in the face and said Bob you have aquried all this wealth and popularity people know you every where do you not have anything more important to advocate for in the USA like homeless childern, and abused childern. He looked at that council member and said you worry about the childern I will worry about the bears. Now to me that is arrogance. Once again just like we casinos and alcohol people outside of the reservation are telling us poor Indians how to run our lives. I would also like you readers and listeners to know that Bob also called us a Third World Country I guess the Natvie Americans have not had their fare share of abuse and hate. I guess everyone should just start calling us animals, dirty, savage Indians. I can not believe someone as respectable as Bob Barker would have the nerve to call us a Third World Country. That just brought back all types of ethnic slurs that use to exist here in Western North Carolina. Yes Bob Barker and Beverly Young you are right we did invade the bears land where was PETA when this American government was sending Indians west to Oklahoma like a herd of cattle? And for those doubters that say he would not say nothing like that pick up an Asheville Citizen-Times Thursday, July 30, 2009 edition. I would also like to say I am an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian and currently reside in the Painttown community.


John   August 5th, 2009 11:24 am ET

One other thing is that he Cages that the bears are in are USDA inspected tribally inspected and meet all requirements they even have surprise visits. If Bob says these are low quality inspections he should take it with the USDA not the Tribe. On top of that our economy runs on Tourism and for Bob to Boycott the Tribe and its tourism is hurting a lot of already struggling business owners other than the bear zoos. That is disgraceful and very sad that he is starving all of Cherokee. Bob Barker you make me sick.


Mark Brooks   August 5th, 2009 12:05 pm ET

I worked at Santa's Land for twelve years. The bears have dirt to dig and trees to climb. They are not in concrete pits. They are treated better than most children in this country. mind your refrigrators and leave Cherokee alone


Darlene Walmsley   August 5th, 2009 12:33 pm ET

And we call ourselves HUMAN! If you want to help some other bears who are used for their bile in China, Check out Animalsasia.org. These bears are caged for years with rusty catheters in their bodies and they can't even stand up in the cages. Check it out and let's spread the word to assist this organization too.

Where is the humane society or SPCA and why haven't the US bears been confiscated. If you have photos get them online. Most folk have to SEE before they'll act.


tracey   August 5th, 2009 1:45 pm ET

My husband and I were recently in Cherokee 2 days after Bob's visit and yes,we visited the Bear Zoo on the corner as we always do, 3 or 4 times a year. In my opinion, the bears are always very well taken care of and seem very happy. These bears are not only fed with theses trays of food that you purchase but are fed after hours as well. People have to understand that these bears were raised by these owners as cubs and know of no other way of life but the way they are living and what worries me is what happens to them if they are freed from this habitat, who will take care of them then? Also, there are tigers and 2 species of monkeys that can be seen at this zoo as well. Aren' t they just as important as the bears?


tracey   August 5th, 2009 1:52 pm ET

We support you all the way here in Greenville, NC John!!


christi   August 5th, 2009 5:59 pm ET

it is sad to me to see how easily americans can be manipulated by a celebritys influency most of you people are just assuming what bob has to say or has said is factual if (joe )from down the road had told it no one would have even listened. How sad is that. Bob you need to worry about all your sexual harrasment lawsuits and leave the Native Americans and there bears alone. Maybe we need to start a group up to monitor your womanizing behavior and actions what kind of publicity could that get lets worry about REAL NEWS AND ISSUES.


christi   August 5th, 2009 6:01 pm ET

Bob is this the only way you know how to make a comeback get real , maybe we need to put you out to pasture.


Michael   August 5th, 2009 6:02 pm ET

.......Everyone has there right to there opinion. Thats what makes this country free.


Almasi   August 5th, 2009 7:30 pm ET

Many homeless people live in unimaginably awful conditions as well, I'd rather see Mr Barker direct his compassion toward them.


Susan   August 5th, 2009 7:38 pm ET

This is not about making sure every human is comfortable before we help the animals – you know that's not going to happen – besides that, what makes us so special?

It is my opinion that you help where you can when you see a need.


I. Clark   August 5th, 2009 9:21 pm ET

Wouldn't it be nice to see all these animal lovers showing as much compassion toward the homeless and the children that are living on the streets in this country? It's sad when animals are more important than a homeless child. At least the bears are fed everyday!


Susan   August 5th, 2009 9:47 pm ET

I. Clark – you don't think people who love animals care about children? Who told you that? It makes me annoyed when people think it has to be one or the other.

I care about children and animals because I have always felt both were vulnerable and often times oppressed.


Stila   August 5th, 2009 9:50 pm ET

PETA could do better than Bob Barker as a celebrity to represent them. The man has been sued by eight women!

There are plenty of celebrities with excellent reputations who will work hard for a good cause. PETA should have done their homework before associating with someone like Bob Barker.

It will certainly make me rethink my PETA donation.


Angela   August 5th, 2009 9:59 pm ET

The people keeping these poor bears in such horrible conditions; should be made to trade places and endure the same treatment !!
Can't other animal groups/activists get involved as well !!
How could this go on for as long as it has?


Yonah   August 5th, 2009 10:03 pm ET

I am an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and reside on the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, NC. We applaud Chief Hicks and his stance on protecting our enrolled members and the sovereignty of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. If only our federal government had attempted to protect us so well in 1838 when we were forced to leave our homes and give up our land. There are two sides to every story and before you take Bob Barker's word for it, do what he should've done and educate yourself about these facilities and the regulations that they must be in compliance with inorder to operate. Thousands of people each year come here to visit our attractions and to see our bears. For many it is an educational opportunity that they may not otherwise have been afforded. As for Rep. and Mrs. Young, there is a right way and wrong way to address "issues". Perhaps you should consider consequences before you handle "issues" in the future. PETA and Bob Barker, let's be honest, how much is he paid to represent you? Unfortunately, your "intentions" were overshadowed by your arrogance. We welcome visitors to our beautiful land and encourage you educate yourself about our history and culture.


Susan   August 5th, 2009 10:23 pm ET

I am a citizen of Canada. I was born here and I have sovereignty over nothing. I am a member of this society and I have to respect and live by the laws of my Country.

Who the heck said you were allowed to do what you want? If your "Bear Zoo" is as wonderful as you would like us all to believe, then let's see some photos. Why do people become upset when they visit? Defend yourselves because you need to.


Charlie F   August 5th, 2009 10:50 pm ET

Have been in numerous countries , with most of these countries being off limits to Western personnel (especially Americans) Just about all of these countries have various animals in all types of creativity. Some of these are given just enough food to survive , with the rest coming from political subjects for sport. Am talking about not only bears (in Russa, & China and approx. 8,000 to 10,000 Moon Bears being in very restricted cages for the extraction of Bile. Have seen the Indian Bears at Cherokee more that several times, and have not seen any deliberate abuse Have seen the bears physically removed with force due to altercations between them
. Bob Barker should get his facts straight before trying to force his way and./ or making threats.
He might have had better luck if he had approached Principal Chief Hicks in a different way\ My sister-in-law is a member of PETA and some of her PETA members are weird and capable of and have actually done some things that are bordering on illegal if not actually so.

My wish is for the Inspectors to change some of the rules on keeping the bears and making the conditions more humane with bigger enclosures and more trees, logs, grass (turf) and shade / or in essence and effect a more natural environment

This is from an wildlife advocate and a long time friend of the Eastern Cherokee, The Lakota Souix, Cree and the Navajo. I Understand part of there ways which date back thousands of years and remember they are now of a sovereign nation, AND THE CHEROKEE ARE A GREAT NATION EVEN BEING SPLIT INTO EASTERN and WESTERN Tribes. Honor there ways / if not / stay off the various reservations


Cloud Dancer   August 5th, 2009 10:54 pm ET

Yonah – Thank you for your comments. My great-grandfather escaped from the round-up in Georgia and hid in the mountains. I love the land there and visit every year. However, I don't like seeing the bears in the "pits" like they are. It's extremely sad and heart breaking to some of us. However...

Tracey, you are also correct in what you said. These bears have been raised that way. They could not survive on their own and moving them to a "PETA place" is pretty much no different than where they are now. They know the people that raised them and trust them. They may even show affection for them... Who's to say...

My only response further is that if The Cherokee are going to keep them on their reservations is these "pits", they need to make some major improvements to them. They need to make them more friendly to the bears (trees, dirt, caves, more natural habitats) and that in itself would please all the people that are complaining.

I didn't like what I saw and have never been back to one, it actually gave me nightmares. (I can't comment on the one at Santa Land because I went to the one at the shopping area).

Theresa Buchanan
Belton, SC


Chad Messer   August 6th, 2009 12:32 am ET

Bob Barker's main problems with the issue in Cherokee is that we was very disrespectful to Chief Michell Hicks, being willfully ignorant about the sovereign laws of the Cherokee, and then insulting the intelligence of the local citizens by telling half-truths in the local media. The bears are kept in accordance with federal law. The Cherokee Nation kept PETA from protesting because it is their right as a sovereign entity, and because the PETA protesters were harassing tourists and blocking entrance and egress of a lawful business. It is the arrogance of Barker and PETA's efforts in Cherokee that hurt their cause. If you have a point to make, don't lie about it. If you want to make a change, don't insult the leaders of the place you are visiting. And on a purely personal level, the Cherokee Nation has no need to take lessons on morality from a man who made his name sexually harassing spokesmodels.


Pat Sides   August 6th, 2009 12:40 am ET

I read article and am appalled, BUT after dhecking Peta site an unable to determine what I can do. Also do not want to forward to friends UNLESS there is a quick, simple way for people to do something!!! What might that be? How about sending Palin do free the bears?


Tina   August 6th, 2009 1:26 am ET

I live near the reservation, I am Cherokee, all I can tell you people is here in Western North Carolina, we get nothing but trouble out of the floridiots, this is a prime example, if you want things to be how they are in Florida, stay away from our part of the world. This is home to many animals, the only home these bears know, why would you take any animal including humans away from the only way they know as well as the only home they know. It doesn't make sense. I respect Mr. Barker and his love for animals, however, he needs to understand the Cherokee culture as well as the history in this area and if he goes too far up Big Cove , he would be in a fit. But, at least our people WILL NOT starve again. IT IS THE CIRCLE OF LIFE!


Cloud Dancer   August 6th, 2009 1:52 am ET

Tina – you tell `em!


LC   August 6th, 2009 1:57 am ET

Many of you will not like what I have to say. I'm really tired of people falling back on the hardships of their ancestors to justify their actions in today's world. All of our ancestors had struggles in one form or another, but they went on with their lives and did the best they could. How anyone, human or animal, is treated is NOT an "ancestoral" issue, it is a "people" issue. Stop using your ancestors' issues as a crutch for your own behavior today. Get over it! Whether or not you like Bob Barker, PETA, or any other organization that "interferes" in your lives, you need to evaluate the facts on your own and determine if things DO need to be changed. If any of these bears are being treated as is being reported, then something needs to be done as soon as possible, regardless of where they are located. Find the NC bears a safe sanctuary on your own, without PETA's input, and you won't have to worry about what happens to them if they are freed. Do what is right for the animals because you know they need proper care, not because some "outsider" tells you to do it. Grow up and at least pretend to be adults with some common sense. Your ancestors would be very proud of you. They cherished their animals; did that "trickle down" to your conscience? It certainly doesn't appear so, from the comments you've posted. I think it's just easier for you to let "someone else" deal with it. I remember the Indian with the tear running down his face. Do you?


andrea taylor   August 6th, 2009 6:21 am ET

can you please tell me what (Your comment is awaiting moderation) means ?do i need to do something ?


Debra   August 6th, 2009 8:46 am ET

Unfortunately , once the bears are fed in their concrete pits , they cannot be returned to their natural habitat. They become dependent on being fed by humans. Even though it is sad , it's true.
We were recently near Cherokee but I wouldn't let my children see the animals because I didn't want them to see the bears in the concrete pits. My great grandmother was a Cherokee Indian, she loved all animals and would have been devastated to see these deplorable conditions. Hopefully Chief Hicks can make a decision to improve the bear's living area and remember to be true to his heritage.


John   August 6th, 2009 2:17 pm ET

I am like this if PETA and Bob Barker are so concerned about this. As much money as they both have combined instead of taking someone’s lively hood how about offer to build them a new facility too their likings. Because the point here really is PETA and Bob went about it the wrong way. If anyone has read Dale Carnegie’s book “How to make friends and influence people.” If you haven’t please read it. You do not come in a place where the people were oppressed for years and years and demand them to do what you want. I think Bob and PETA would have got a lot farther with suggestions and niceness than with the arrogance they brought causing them to be kicked off the Reservation. “LC” before you go throwing out comments like that. I would like you to please educate yourself on the struggle of the Cherokee. I am not demanding you to do this but please read about us. I will give you an example as to why people use culture as a crutch. We are 14,000 members strong here on the reservation how many of us do you think can speak the language...300...that is all that is left. This maybe because my Grandparents who lived in this generation were beat in boarding schools if they spoke their language. In turn not teaching their children or their children. We have developed and are currently working on and progressing an emersion program that teaches kids from babies to 5th grade how to speak the language. I have a child in this program so before you go talking about crutches look at the struggles we still have as a people today.


David   August 6th, 2009 2:50 pm ET

I would like to hear another side of the story or even better see for myself. My wife and I live not to far so well take the kids and make a weekend of going to Cherokee to see the bears. I will report back!


Susan   August 6th, 2009 3:36 pm ET

David, I would be very interested in what you have to say.


vickie   August 6th, 2009 4:11 pm ET

Tina,

I am also Cherokee and you make me ashamed if you are too. This has nothing to do with the circle of life. That was a long time ago and our people aren't starving. There are opportunities and taking advantage of the animals that our people use to cherish is not representative of the Great American Indian. I think I have heard the name Running Bear in our tribe. Doesn't sound to me like these are running bears. Thank you, Mr. Barker, for trying to make our people see that they should be smart and rise above this type of inhumane treatment. If they can, maybe someday we can have a red man in the white house.


Cynthia   August 6th, 2009 4:38 pm ET

The fact that many people who have commented here actually saw the horrible condition in which these bears are kept is proof enough that PETA is not making this up or exagerating.
Even if people don't like PETA, that is NO EXCUSE to not try to help these innocent creatures.
PETA makes it easy by having a prewritten letter which you can send.
Go to peta.org and look on the second page of "Action Alerts."


Stila   August 6th, 2009 5:57 pm ET

Sorry Cynthia, I don't trust Bob Barker, he just caused alot of problems and expense for the LA Zoo over an elephant, and when it was investigated it turned out that Bob Barker was wrong, and genuine animal rights activist Betty White was right, and the elephant remains at the LA Zoo!

Sure there are people writing here claiming to have seen these alleged horrible conditions but have they really? Until I see some actual footage I'm not believing anything or condemning any person or people, and certainly not just on the word of PETA mouthpiece and self promoter Bob Barker!


Celeste   August 6th, 2009 7:50 pm ET

I guess it's all "relative". I don't like to see bears in cement pits, but if it makes anyone feel any better, it could be much worse. The good side is that they get sunshine and food. And they get to stretch and move around. These bears are in heaven compared to the 10,000 or so Asiatic Moon Bears who are kept in coffin size cages their entire lives (sometimes up to 30 years, if they live that long), unable to even move or stretch – and then are slaughtered when they stop producing bile.

In my opinion the bears in North Carolina are in paradise compared to the moon bears in Asia – who live for years on end in cages, and with crude catheters implanted into their gallbladders. These bears turn to self-mutilation after years of unimaginable pain and suffering, and never see one minute of sunshine. (imagine if you will)

If anyone needs a picture to believe it, just search on the web for bear bile farming and you'll get the point.

As Gandhi wrote: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

And on that note, if any of you eat meat, a product of factory farming, do not cast stones, as you are taking part in a form of animal abuse as well.


DDiane   August 6th, 2009 9:57 pm ET

Thank you Mr. Barker.

Those of us who respect animals need celebs
like you to bring these horrendous and diplicable acts against
animals. A few in this blog have critisized you, have brought up your
past, and even some recommend that you should dedicate your time to for the homeless or children. Don't let these insensitive individuals
bother you one bit. A human has the ability to speak and makes it's
choices in life. An animal cannot defend itself or speak for itself and animals continue to be exploited for the love of money.

As far as I am concerned there are three categories of human beings, the first being those who respect animals and believe that they should live their life in the wild. The second category are those who hate animals, and I wonder why this is. Most likely, these people have physicological problems and don't even like themselves. Finally, the last category are those who are too lazy to work or learn a trade and sit back and make a buck off of an animal.

All animal lovers should boycott circuses, dog shows, zoos, bear pitts, etc. as I have for the past 10 years.

Many thanks and keep up the good work. We need you!


Diva   August 7th, 2009 2:04 am ET

I had been to SantaLand in the 70's and it was deplorable and I got stung by a nests of wasps. The bears in Cherokee are sad and the abuse is unreal. Its all about the money if tourists quit paying their would be no demand and the bears would not be needed anymore.


A.S.   August 7th, 2009 2:27 am ET

Having read all the above I see that this is an impassioned subject on a surprising number of levels. I have to agree with the commenter who suggested that we shouldn't take either side's word for it, but rather see actual video provided by both sides of the issue. I.E. one side showing video of bears in deplorable conditions, and then a video from the other side showing well fed bears frolicking in their environment. Anything less will just continue this "opposing sides justifying their position" blah, blah.

So let's see the footage.

Question to mods: Since Larry is allowing Bob Barker to use the CNN blog for his personal platform, it would appear that Larry is pro-Bob's side. Or is Larry actually Switzerland, waiting for the Cherokee Bear Zoo to weigh in?


MacRob   August 8th, 2009 5:34 pm ET

The Cherokee do not care much for someone outside the tribe coming in to tell them what to do and rightly so. Mr. Barker's heart may be in the right place, but he has not authority to come in and insist that the tribe do what he wants, then threaten a boycott if they don't. The bears are a very small part of the attraction of Cherokee and if they were gone it probably would not mean much to the tribe. However, reason and persuasion will go a lot further than threats. I have seen one of the bear exhibits (last year) and while the bears might be better off somewhere else, they do not seem to be abused.

By the way, my daughter-in-law is part Cherokee and my grandson is descended from the only white Cherokee chief, William Holland Thomas. We have great affection for the tribe and the place in our family.


Leonard Jinkins   August 8th, 2009 5:45 pm ET

After witnessing these bear pits myself, I would not shed a tear for those who may find themselves locked in a cage with these mistreated animals.

Justice.


animal lover   August 8th, 2009 5:49 pm ET

can't we just go in and take the bears away from the indians, like we've been doing for hundreds of years? i mean seriously, they're only there on a reservation because we allow them to be. if they can't take care of nature and it's living animals, let's do it for them... and take the land so they can't torture the animals anymore.


B.A.   August 8th, 2009 5:49 pm ET

Am I the only person disturbed by statement attributed to Beverly Young, rep. Bill Young's wife?

-I remember her saying, “The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are treated better than these bears, who have done nothing.”-

She should be publicly chastised for saying this and Mr. Barker should feel ashamed for using this statement to demonstrate his position. These prisoners are human beings, who have not gone through due process and may be wrongly imprisoned.

No doubt that the treatment of these bears appears to be despicable, but the poor choice of words in comparing them to Guantanamo prisoners and implicitly condoning inhumane treatment of these prisoners is idiotic and an apology should be forthcoming. Unfortunately I know it will not.


Liberty Queen   August 8th, 2009 5:56 pm ET

Folks, please do not go to these places, no matter what people are doing the cruelties. Shut 'em down NOW! Cherokee peoples: you should be ashamed of yourselves for betraying the Great Spirit and Mother Earth and All Our Relations....the winged ones, the crawlers the swimmers, the two-legged and the four-legged. You desecrate with your cruelty to these animals and they will be waiting for you on the other side. Hang your head in Shame, Cherokee Nation!


Pea   August 8th, 2009 5:59 pm ET

Hurray Bob for telling it like it, is in hopes of making it like it should become!!!


Mary   August 8th, 2009 5:59 pm ET

i think we need to register animals of breeding age and animals are not allowed to breed unless we can show they will be cared for and that you can afford their care-. We are caretakers of the beasts and we have done a crap job– indiscrimate breeding of poor quality and inbreeding and causing horrible genetic disorders that we have perpetuated in many generations . –It does not need to be a registry run by government hell NO we have seen the corruption and commonsense out the window of keeping prices affordable .

Our resources are drying up we cannot afford to take care of all the animals that have been born that is why they are dying in peoples back yards ...people should have to show proof that they can care for an animal if they are going to breed for one –and open a business if they are going to offer them for sale –and prove their quality...and that they can care for them if they cannot sell them .

the reagan years are over commonsense has gone out the window a good example has been the horses dying by the thousands in the USA and our GOVT housing over 30,000 mustangs that cost 30 million a year to feed and keep and they double every 4 years in population why are they not castrating those mustangs see the BLM.gov

goverment waste and we joe the taxpayer are going to have to pay up
those that are working that is ,we need accountibility for animal ownership and a revamping of our government..... Yes our president inherited the failure of past presidents but he also is spending money we do not have --we are not seeing the 10% unemployeement because unemployeement benefits have run out and im sure robbery is at an all time high–people have bills to pay and to feed their kids -he has not created jobs and the cash for clunkers how is that helping??billions wasted--

all the daily waste and programs that should be cut are wasting millions every damn day w e are tired of it and we should start by cutting populations in man and beast.....our resources are running out we cannot afford to care for everone and personal responsibility where in the hell is that ? i was taught to show respect and be accountable –i dont see alot of that in many people these days –im very afraid of the kids growing up these days-self centered and disrespectful and how when im old- am going to be treated? and with this health care reform when im old -we will be at the bottom of the list or not allowed to have knee replacement s because of our age–scary times -–we need to change our worlds one house at a time
Mary


ROBERT M   August 8th, 2009 6:07 pm ET

Thank you, Bob, for speaking out about these poor animals. It looks as though the savages who keep them in these inhumane conditions have not progressed very far since European settlement.


Me!   August 8th, 2009 6:09 pm ET

Bob Barker is entitled to support any organization he chooses. And, if he chooses to use his fame and money to support animals, then so be it! The animals need someone to speak for them as they cannot speak for themselves. Thank you, Bob Barker, for caring about the animals.


Patti   August 8th, 2009 6:15 pm ET

I have also seen animals exploited this way in Pigeon Forge, TN. I applaud Bob Barker for getting involved and trying to help these bears. They need someone to speak out for them.


LTB   August 8th, 2009 6:16 pm ET

I am part Cherokee and originally from eastern Tennessee. I will take action to find out what is going on with these bears and see how I can help. Most business owners will not respond well to demands from PETA, but they will respond to citizens, tourists, and customers.


Ark R.   August 8th, 2009 6:31 pm ET

We are leaving in unperfected world. The powerless are there to suffer the abuse of powerful. Are they bears, or are the Cherokee People.
To slowly make this world better we have the power of Low.
It was no Low to protect Cherokee People from throwing them out their Land so they had no chance.
There is no low to protect this bears so they have no chance.
This is simple animal wellbeing against people jobs and profit.
Animals cannot stand the chance.
I think it is too late to refer to animal abuse as shameless for Native Americans. The things done with American Indians by us should make our mouth shut.


Kathy   August 8th, 2009 6:32 pm ET

I guess the bears fall into the same category as the whales here in the Pacific Northwest. Whatever suits the Indians and however they can get away with it is just fine.....No wonder people judge you...shame!


Mara   August 8th, 2009 6:33 pm ET

Stop turning this into something it's not (people making ridiculous comments like "next thing you'll want to take their land"). This is about living things being horribly mistreated, not about the Native American's plight. So because they were horribly slighted and mistreated, we should overlook the way that they are currently mistreating these animals? Good grief, one has nothing to do with the other.
and to the people who bash literally ANYONE who attempts to stand up for an animal, why are you so threatened by this? The world would be a much better place if everyone took a stand for the "humane" treatment of all creatures: people and animals.


Dave   August 8th, 2009 6:36 pm ET

Dave, how could you say something like that and keep a straight face? We have no authority within our own borders? You must be crazy. I am pretty sure that if we go all the way across the planet to stop violence, we can do it in our own backyard. Only a sick wacko would see something like this and not want to intervene. Sadly, that is EXACTLY what a lot of people are. I am not interested in their hate, they can keep it for themselves.


Beth   August 8th, 2009 6:40 pm ET

They are just zoos. Just another rich man trying to take down the hard working middle class. You are sick Bob Barker! I wish someone would stick you in a refrigerator and lock the door.


Bina   August 8th, 2009 6:41 pm ET

Thank you Bob for bringing attention to these innocent beautiful animals plight. The people that mistreat these beautiful bears should be punished! I cannot comprehend how anyone could do this. We should have laws to protect these bears.


Kelli   August 8th, 2009 6:46 pm ET

So, according to some people having an objection to bears living in deplorable conditions is REALLY about taking over Native American lands.......hmm, you're going to have to explain that one a little better.

I say grow up and have a little compassion!


lynne   August 8th, 2009 6:48 pm ET

Thank you, Bob, for exposing this terrible situation. You know, the Cherokee Indians could make MORE MONEY by having a display of how to preserve the environment and protect the animals. Instead of having these numerous bears kept in sickening conditions, they could have one bear kept in exemplary conditions-properly housed in a large enclosure with an appropriate environment.
People who visit these sites will come away with a lack of respect for those who maintain these places-and sadness for the animals. I
I urge tribal leaders to show the courage and leadership to remedy this situation.


Don   August 8th, 2009 6:49 pm ET

Make the ENTIRE Indian nation force the changes needed.

The way to do this is to have a NATIONAL BOYCOTT of each and every CASINO that is operated by any INDIAN TRIBE until the necessary changes and future safeguards are enacted.


John   August 8th, 2009 6:50 pm ET

Hey Jon War, if the elephant you are talking about is really 30+ years old then he is only middle aged.

And I amazed by the people here telling Bob to go away and stop making a fuss. Really? You are ok with the conditions of these animals? shame on you.


gandoman   August 8th, 2009 6:50 pm ET

Virtually all 'Psychiatrists' & 'Psychoanalysts' confirm that the most effective way of curing/healing a problem is to admit that you have one.
Unfortunately, being "POLITICALLY CORRECT" seems to be more important than recognizing that all members of the human race are NOT EQUAL. There are very few Einsteins, Jordans, Streeps, Whitmans, Dickens, Clintons, etc.etc.
Most of the people on this planet revolve around a low IQ or as I like to say..."They are '3' below plant life."
It is not shocking that people abuse animals as these people somewhere along the birth canal lost something that should have made them more tolerant, less cruel, able to differentiate between
basic levels of 'right' & 'wrong'.

JUST KIDDING.....the planet earth is mostly overrun by imbeciles, low-lifes, very low IQ individuals who sink even lower when in a group of their peers. People who house bears in cement cages should be sentenced to spend time in cement cages themselves.

Unfortunately, that wouldn't be "POLITICALLY CORRECT."
The hell with political and the hell with correct.
Just shoot the bastrds!


Jonathan   August 8th, 2009 6:55 pm ET

When people abuse animals you have to really wonder if they have a mental illness. I live in an area of Canada with a high percentage of Aboriginals (Native Canadians I guess) and their treatment of their pets is utterly deplorable. I have NEVER seen an aboriginal walk their dog in years around here. Yet many have dogs. I've seen kittens sold at garage sales without a thought as to what the new home is. There seems to be a general callousness to everything outside of their immediate little sphere of influence. Why this is, I'm not sure. I know many of had devestating childhoods marred in alcohol and other substance abuse. One little girl told me when asked "How mahy of your friends' parents drink a lot at home", she replied with one word: "All". Now I know that is not completely true but it is an example of just how bad substance abuse is in some areas. Perhaps its the substance abuse: And it matters not if its illicit drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs. Its a quick escape from reality for people that seem to lack the tools to deal with their present reality. Its just a sad, sad mess. And when you consider the children's tragic plight, you realize this is going to be repeated generation after generation. We as humans don't seem to learn well from previous generations' mistakes.


Gladys   August 8th, 2009 6:56 pm ET

Reading about the opposition to animal rights on the grounds that there are poor children to care for makes me really bitter. What kind of world are we going to leave the children if we can't be bothered to preserve and respect its beauty? The bears on this story have nothing to do with our society's problems and yet we drag them into them with the excuse that caging them feeds a couple dozen people. How about we learn to profit from watching them in the wilderness?I also have a huge issue with the notion that society needs to pick up the slack when adults can't provide for their progeny. Why do we let a man earning minimum wage have 5 kids and then allow him to get welfare? How did the Octomom get to have 14 kids off welfare? We need to put an end to reckless reproduction, limit welfare programs and provide incentives for people who don't reproduce. Childless people work more, pay more taxes, put less strain on resources and yet they are the first to pay when there is a tax hike. We need to stop this nonsense.!


vavixen   August 8th, 2009 7:06 pm ET

GO BO BO!!!

I am so proud that there are people/celebrities using their star power for a great cause such as this.


Anon   August 8th, 2009 7:09 pm ET

It's sad that those bears are kept in such aweful conditions, but with PeTA on this on don't really take them or their celebrity activist drones seriously. After all of those idiotic protest, that do nothing to help animals, or the fact that they are linked to funding eco terrorists is laughable as to why they don't have their tax exempt gone.

As for the condition of the bears just sickens me. How hard is it to care for them? If they aren't up to taking care of the bears why bother keeping them and just give them to people who can?

But PeTA doesn't care for animal welfare. After all it's still keeping animals enslaved and explotied by us. Animal rights is the agenda of making it illegal to hunt, stop people from eating animal products, using animals for pets, circuses, zoos, ect.


Andrew Umphries   August 8th, 2009 7:09 pm ET

This is not about "Federal Authority" or "Federal Standards". This is about common decency and how horribly people can treat other living beings. Treating innocent animals in such a way is wrong on a moral standard.


redplanet   August 8th, 2009 7:10 pm ET

Obviously PETA needs to do a better marketing job. If anyone thinks they are bad, someone has been truly misinformed. I see too much misinformation here about PETA. They act where others don't. They care when others won't.

Animals and children are our most vulnerable. Any organization that ensures the recognition of abuse of either is to be recognized for the good they do. GO PETA!


D Slote   August 8th, 2009 7:13 pm ET

Perhaps we should put these people in these cages on display 24/7 like inmates ... and charge admission to see them and watch them beg for food and medical attention (in the same conditions as the Bears have it).... no doubt they need the medical attention if their fur is comming off. Lets see it on the other foot ... what a perfect world it would be if we could do this to these low lifes ... I thought the Indians had more respect for ANIMAL LIFE.... apparently not if money is invilved ......
Speak out people and get your Government Involved ... If they want your vote ,then they will have to pass laws and do something about it !!!


george   August 8th, 2009 7:14 pm ET

"Revolting" is the only word that comes to mind. So much for the myth that the "natives" lived or live in harmony with nature: these people are a disgrace to their culture and history.


robin   August 8th, 2009 7:16 pm ET

It does sadden me to hear about fur just hanging, and they walk back and forth or in circles. These are signs of them being bored, and if the cage was more home like that might help. IE trees,grass, dirt to dig in? Most places that keep wild animals under permit also keep logs on what and how much is being fed. I dont trust PETA or the government on wildlife laws. The laws on housing,record keeping and treatment might be different for the reservation, i dont know however, The spirit of those bears will come back in the next life....


Linda Cameron   August 8th, 2009 7:17 pm ET

God Bless Bob Barker for his never ending pursuit to help abused and neglected animals. I live in Raleigh NC and have never been to Cherokee yet however plan to go and see the Bears and how I/we can taken action quickly to put them in a better place.
Hang in there Bears! If the owner was offered enough money he would sell the bears in a second, but he must be closed down.


Sue   August 8th, 2009 7:24 pm ET

I find it sad that many of the above responses are from locals or people that have visited these places in the past and no one has said anything to get this stopped until Bob and Peta get involved, and even then – you voice your opinion here but have you contacted anyone? When we see these conditions for any animal or person for that matter isn't it our moral obligation to do what ever we can to help them? What kind of place do we live in that we just look the other way and forget about it once we are no longer there to see it? As for the locals, you see it everyday, you have a reminder every day that this is wrong. There is a right and wrong for all things, don't fool yourselves into believing you won't pay a price for ignoring it. Karma is a bummer. Save these poor precious creatures that did nothing to be imprisoned. What a terrible life....


Emily   August 8th, 2009 7:27 pm ET

To all the people that are saying the bears are just fine–you should be placed in those concrete cages until you understand what its like. Humans are also mammals and it is gross that some people are so obnoxious.


foxglove   August 8th, 2009 7:27 pm ET

Just because it is an Indian Reservation the place is not beyond law enforcement. Put the sob in jai that own the places.


Doug   August 8th, 2009 7:31 pm ET

I'm sure the problem is widespread. Bob and other celebrities owe it to their good fortune to expose these and other injustices. Go Bob!


Prof A   August 8th, 2009 7:33 pm ET

I see both Mr. Barker's point, as well as those who feel the tribe is an autonomous body that should run its establishments–including "zoos"–as it likes. If the report about the bears is true, I am saddened, as I do not like to see any creature locked in a concrete vault. I lived in TN for years and interacted with many free bears.

However, after reading these comments, I think the larger trap (and not for the bears) is the trap of sheer ignorance. I read these posts full of grammar errors and blatant fallacies in logic, and I think to myself–THIS could be a "jury of my peers?"

I know that some of those with "issues" about someone calling out the American Public for being downright stupid will shoot off some harsh remarks. However, we'll see if they check their (here, it's "there" or "they're" or ther") English.

Go to school so you can save a bear.
Prof. A.


Charlie   August 8th, 2009 7:34 pm ET

I don't think I will be going back to Cherokee.


Lee S   August 8th, 2009 7:35 pm ET

One of questions would be what to replace the current conditions with. They can not be let loose into the wild. They have lost all fear of humans and as any backwoods camper knows that means a rogue bear. They may be cute but they are strong and dangerous animals. A bear which is expecting food from a human will present an ever present danger and WILL need to be shot and killed.

I am most upset that the facility is teaching visitors and children that feed bears is fun and something that can be done without regard to the danger involved. Unless People Entertaining Terrorist Acts is willing to understand the realities of the situation they will doom the bears to death. But will undoubtedly claim victory in the name of Domestic Terrorism.

The moral, from my point of view... Don't feed the bears. It's not good for them and it's not good for us.


Dennis and Betsy   August 8th, 2009 7:40 pm ET

My wife and I were at one of the bear zoos about a month ago. I took a picture of my wife with the baby bear. Sure, it has a harness. How else can you control and train a baby bear. All of the bears there are well taken care of. The scraggy coats are a blend of summer/winter fur.
If you think the bears are treated bad, look around Cherokee and some of the housing that the Indains live in. All of the gift shops sell nothing but "Made in China" because of goverment regulations about selling Indian goods. The bears are treated better in Cherokee than the native indians. The USA took thier lands and culture and left them with nothing but a few bears and a few places for them to dance for handouts.


Karen   August 8th, 2009 7:41 pm ET

I was doing fine with this until I saw those magic letters PETA. Sorry Bob I'm sure your description of the conditions is probably accurate, but your association with a terrorist group takes away any credibility you might have had for me.


Joe   August 8th, 2009 7:45 pm ET

I have a friend who raised goats. One day a bear got into the goat's area and killed and ate them. I was horrified and wanted to kill the bear ... He said to me ... "the bear was doing what he/she knew to survive."

I cannot judge how these "Zoos" treat their animals. I don't have any direct contact. I do know, that animals are abused. I have two sweet dogs that were rescued from a "Puppy Mill" and have personally taken a challenge to close them all!


maggy   August 8th, 2009 7:48 pm ET

I used to live near Cherokee. Those bears are pitiful. I stopped going there years ago because of the cruelty those bears endure.

Anyone who says they are withing government guidelines are nutty. Government guidelines for animals are about as worthless as cotton candy in the rain. While you are at it, get those poor tortured elephants, moneys, and tigers out of the circus. Can't we have entertainment these days without torturing animals?


John   August 8th, 2009 7:49 pm ET

I am 1/4th Cherokee but am too ashamed of the actions of the people on the reservations to even admit my heritage most of the time. Between the Casinos, the mistreatment of the both the animals and land that IMHO go completely against the very things that were argued as important to maintain native american culture. Instead what they have created is a place that perpetuates the stereo types of drunks liars and theives that we have fought to overcome for hundreds of years.

The last time I was there was nearly 15 years ago there were rows of machines that looked like arcade games where for a quarter you could "play tick-tac-toe" with a duck or some other small animal the animal in turn would recieve a morsel of food apparently their only source of being fed while living in tiny enlosures. The bear "photo opportunities" usually on blacktop or deplorable dog runs much too small for a black bear were plentiful as well. At least now I understand why my grandparents left and never looked back.


Stephanie   August 8th, 2009 7:51 pm ET

Excuse me, but what on earth does this have to do with Cherokee sovereignty? I am sure that there are lots of militia groups and religious sects who also believe that they have sovereignty over their own land. Does it give them the right to abuse their children, wives, animals or anyone else? Of course not. They are members of the human race just like the rest of us, and need to answer on a moral basis not one of perceived rights.

Keep up the good work, Bob. Regardless of any of your other issues, you have been a constant in the battle to bring awareness to the protection of animals.

Cherokee Nation – you should be ashamed. I always thought that respect for nature was your credo. Now I see that the almightly dollar has become your goal instead of respect for your heritage. What a long way you have fallen.


Jan L   August 8th, 2009 7:51 pm ET

Whatever happens, don't give the bears to PITA.
All PITA does is, they put the animals out of their "misery". It would be a death sentence for the bears.


Tom   August 8th, 2009 7:54 pm ET

Larry: Thank you for hosting this important discussion.

Bob: You rock! Thank you for your many years of service to animals. I hope this causes people to finally act on behalf of those poor bears.


Sam   August 8th, 2009 7:54 pm ET

The people of Cherokee have the right to define (or refuse to define) the animal treatment rules on their territory. The land is theirs, so is the jurisdiction. The "outside" people have the right to disagree, and vote with their wallets accordingly. Stop sticking your noses into their affairs, and keep to your own. As to the PETA fanatics, let them follow their jihad. I personally eat some chicken, do not eat red meat, some of my shoes are from artificial materials, others form leather. Anyone desiring to tell me how I should live my life can speak up their mind, but not on my time.


Lara   August 8th, 2009 7:55 pm ET

I would like to know whether there is more documentation of these allegations online? Specifically, is there somewhere where someone has posted actual photos taken at these centers, or videos of the centers and the cages, so that we can see - rather than simply be told - what the conditions are?

Publicity materials by either organization do not, however, count.

While PETA has done some very good things, they have also done some very appalling things, so I'm not predisposed to simply jump on their bandwagon. And I'm not predisposed to jump the other way either, because anyone who's actually making money off of the bears can't provide a completely objective opinion about them. Ideally, I'd like to see pictures and videos that tourists to the facilities have taken, preferably ones taken before this scandal occurred.

These have to exist somewhere, surely. And seeing them is going to be the only way to see past the spin.


Andrew   August 8th, 2009 7:56 pm ET

So, BBark may have had legal issues in the past . . . what in the world does that have to do with suffering bears? The point is that these bears are living in abhorrent conditions and they need to be rescued. Who cares which celebrity champions this cause? The bears, and their welfare, are the point . . . not Bob.


james greenbay   August 8th, 2009 7:59 pm ET

One time I was in Taos, New Mexico=As I am a quarter Cherokee, I've never seen so many intoxicated Native Americans in all my life. One was so intoxicated that he fell face first, unable to brace himself, on concrete in the middle of a road. I literally sprinted to assist him as I was utterly terrified for the young man; he looked up at me and couldn't even speak. The local residents said many always act like that. Alcoholism is rampant in Native American communites as many are genetically predisposed to the horrid disease. I've spoken with many Native Americans and have been hunting/hiking with some as well-they were honestly some of the kindest, warmest and most gentle people I have ever met. But they will be the first to tell you that the great and proud Native Americans are in a bad spot. They said cash is now king, rather than pride and respect (as it used to be). Unfortunately, if they make money off the bears nothing will ever change, they dont give a darn about the bears health, just the cash flow. They deserve autonomy, but, respectfully, their autonomy should exist in a state of liberty, not of license. I've gotten many wonderful, and scary (they could have out-run the horse I was on) chances to see bears in the wild in northwest Wyoming. Gosh darn gorgeous creatures. I imagine that, in time, shiny black stones will be found in the bears cages–I'll let you guess why.


Peter   August 8th, 2009 8:00 pm ET

Thank you Bob! It is just disgusting that groups of people think that abusing wild animals for profit is acceptable. They need to get real jobs! Roadside zoos should be against the law!


Valerie   August 8th, 2009 8:02 pm ET

Thank you Bob and PETA for the excellent work you do on exposing cruelty to animals! We are the civilized nation being watch by everyone. This should not be condoned in any country, let alone the one that protects animals. How can these small few individuals make the rest of us look horrible in the eyes of the world. I have seen the conditions the bears live in and have been told if they die no one cares, something like the way they treat their dogs. Ignorance is the root of the problem and poverty makes it worse. Over the years, there have been numerous bears, they don't live long as they are starving and sick all the time. When they can't get up anymore they are shot. Finally someone has publicly exposed the cruelty and I hope we as a nation listen and react!


Shelley   August 8th, 2009 8:03 pm ET

should've let the bears eat the indians when they had the chance as part of natures food chain.
What good have the indians done for cherokee except give it a bad name?
The Cherokee Indian reservation is a glut of crime, filth, and corruption.


Catherine   August 8th, 2009 8:12 pm ET

Thank you, Bob Barker for speaking the truth.
To all of you keeping animal in inhumane conditions, including Cherokee Nation, RINGLING BROS. and BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUSES: the world is watching.


Jess   August 8th, 2009 8:20 pm ET

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. "


Andrea   August 8th, 2009 8:20 pm ET

Thank you for posting this article.
It's always a horrible shame to see such mistreatment of animals.
I believe Gandhi once said "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

How people can think that they have the right to keep an innocent living creature in such squalid conditions for the entertainment of others is something I will never understand.

I probably would've gotten an organization like the ASPCA involved instead of PETA though. Regardless of your personal feelings towards PETA, their credibility is extremely damaged in the eyes of the public. Amongst many people, PETA is anything from a huge joke to a domestic terrorist organization, depending on who you ask and what they've heard (whether true or false).
The ASPCA maintains quite a bit more credibility and favor amongst the public. They're largely focused on domestic animals, but they do get involved in the welfare of exotic animals used for entertainment.

The more organizations involved in this case, the better.


Mountain Lion   August 8th, 2009 8:20 pm ET

Whether you support Bob Barker as a person has no bearing on how you feel about the poor treatment of these animals. My family is originally Cherokee and I'm ashamed that people who hold animals in such high regard could stoop so low.

Pick yourself back up by your bootstraps. There are more opportunities to make a living than by subjecting animals to this kind of torture. To the people who run these shows – I hope your next life is spent in a concrete block.


Susan   August 8th, 2009 8:24 pm ET

DPE. Enemies are usually armed and fully loaded. If what you say is true, why are you and "retroacity.tv" the only people saying it? By the way, I am not supporting Bob Barker or anyone else....I am supporting the animals. If Mr. Barker is good enough to expose mistreatment of animals, that's good enough for me.


Pat   August 8th, 2009 8:26 pm ET

Barker reached out to helpless animals, is all. The condition of those bears sound deplorable. He did a good thing. After reading DPE's remarks – I never heard about any of that until now. I hope all the disgruntled people found work & are now gainfully employed. However, this is not the place to bring up old lawsuits, grudges & personal agendas. I've had jobs in the past – one at a respected mortgage company – where I was made to feel uncomfortable, my married boss made inappropriate passes & offers to me – all of which I rejected. I quit my job and moved on with my life. There were no lawsuits or angry words. I removed myself from a situation that was less than desireable. End of story. I didn't turn it into a raging ongoing public scandal to teach somebody a lesson for how they made me feel. I rose above all inappropriate stuff & vowed I would never make an employee of mine feel that way. I chose the compassionate road – not the lets get even road. P.


Steven   August 8th, 2009 8:33 pm ET

With all due respect, Mr. Barker, if you would do a reasonable amount of homework on PETA, you would not be soliciting their help and advice. They might be too busy to worry about the bears, when they are trying to change the name of "fish" to "sea kittens".


Larry   August 8th, 2009 8:40 pm ET

I guess I'm going to have to make a trip to Cherokee to see for myself. Neither Bob Barker nor PETA have a lot of credibility with me.


Russell from OKC   August 8th, 2009 8:40 pm ET

Well, I used to think that Bob Barker was a nut of sorts but I do realize that he is a genuine human being and the day he's no longer with us will be a sad day indeed. I agree that PETA being involved is not a good thing but who else is there? We need people like Bob to ensure bears and other animals live where they can be safe and hopefully free.


Jo   August 8th, 2009 8:55 pm ET

God to the ones that give negative ingorant comment is why the world is like it is today. You people are sick, put you in a cage and see what happens if you need water or food. Sick people here with neg comments


Rob G.   August 8th, 2009 9:02 pm ET

Can't quite read all of this but "LC" said just, exactly, what I want to say!

Rob G., Mint Hill, NC


Winston-Salem Resident   August 8th, 2009 9:06 pm ET

You don't have to guess what the bear pits are like. There are plenty of photos and even video of the bears at Santa's Land online. Just Google Image search it. I linked to some images on Jacob...K's Flikr site. If not inhumane (and I'm not saying it wasn't) the photos and movies certainly appeared to show a disrespectful treatment of the animals - caged and begging. Really old fashioned, the way bad zoos used to be. If the proprietors consider that an appropriate educational experience regarding wild animals, I don't agree with them. I wouldn't take my kids there. It's saddening.

And I don't care that the bear pits mean the minimum governmental standards. The standards are obviously set too low. I don't know much about Bob Barker and it doesn't matter one way or the other whether I do. I can see for myself what the situation is, and I think it's right for someone to call out the Cherokees on this one. They should not use their independent status as an excuse for not doing the right thing.


WhitneyD   August 8th, 2009 9:07 pm ET

Regardless of what federal guidelines are, the government gets involved in private roadside zoos (those not on reservations) all the time.

If Mr. Barker's facts are indeed even half-true, the conditions that the animals are kept in are less than ideal for the ultimate health and well being of the bears. They do need space- and caging them up and not giving them room to exercise can only lead to an angry bear in my book.

That said, I wish that he hadn't relied on PETA for help. While yes, PETA does have a history of helping animals- they also have a lot of causes that aren't as well publicized. PETA has long opposed zoos, which serve as a visible way to educate people on the importance of conserving nature and helping to protect species in the wild. It's hard to explain to someone that it's important to save an animal's habitat if we've never seen them- out of sight, out of mind. PETA has also long opposed breeding animals- not just puppy mills, but responsible breeders who maintain the integrity of breeds through show animals. They've backed every mandatory spay & neuter bill that has been proposed in this country (aside: I believe that all pets should be spayed and neutetered – there's no need for the average pet owner to be breeding their animals), they've included verbage that would essentially make it impossible for the responsible breeder to continue their work as well as those who breed service animals. PETA's ultimate goal is to get rid of every domesticated animal, not to help find homes for dogs and cats in shelters.

So while it's nice that Bob Barker and PETA are working against this, I'll do my own digging and find another way to help these bears.


Stream Of Consciousness   August 8th, 2009 9:11 pm ET

Just want to point out that most of the Guantanamo prisoners have done nothing. Certainly no charges have ever been filed.


DAVE   August 8th, 2009 9:13 pm ET

it is hard to believe that Native Americans, who traditionally have a respect for nature,would do such a thing. It is also surprising that it has not been stopped. How can we stop this and similar practices?


Eileen Oliver Nolan   August 8th, 2009 9:22 pm ET

I'm in tears after reading this article. I just can't grasp how people can be so cruel to animals. I believe that animals should not be allowed to be in the circus. Our laws need to be much changed and I believe that people who treat animals cruely should go to jail.


T L   August 8th, 2009 9:36 pm ET

While mistreatment of animals is deplorable, I can't help wondering how many people speaking in favor of treating animals ethically will tonight be eating a hamburger or steak from a cow that lived an insanely miserable life in a factory farm only to be slaughtered while enduring unimaginable torture. People who claim to be concerned about animal ethics need to start walking the walk. I strongly recommend reading Peter Singer's "The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter."


Jennifer   August 8th, 2009 9:39 pm ET

Thank you Mr. Barker for your blog. I hope something is done soon to help these animals.


stephen tavani   August 8th, 2009 9:40 pm ET

Bob I have a deal for you that i think you are going to like! You have brought so much joy to the public throughout your career
and raised awareness on how animals should be treated with your passion for them and I am grateful to you. I have to say though, because this is my passion, that I can take you to so many places in our inner cities where thousands of precious innocent children live in even worse conditions then those bears and yet their is little outcry for them especially in the entertainment community. We do outreaches all around the country in the neediest parts of the cites providing meals, haircuts, snow cones, career development, makeovers, boxes of groceries, family portraits, eye and medical exams, back to school supplies, bikes, TV"s. ipods, balls, dishes and much more ALL FREE! We have a huge stage truck and give a concert, right in the middle of the "hood". We even rock babies, hand out diapers and fix bikes for free! My wife says that I am a cross between Bob Barker (since I give thousands of prizes away free) and Billy Graham because after I give it away I tell them how much God loves them! My wife was "Peaches" with the singing group "PEACHES & HERB" She sang the hit "Reunited" so she has a lot on the ball! We average 2 to 4,000 people a day with all colors and ages there. It is one big party! We let them know how special they are to God just like all of his creations. We have had over ONE MILLION people attend these outreaches called WOW JAMS in the last 18 years but there are many more people to help just like there are many more animals for you to rescue. So here is the deal BOB, come and visit one of our outreaches and allow your heart to be touched by the terrible conditions so many of our children are living in and I will visit one of your bear den nightmares and learn about the terrible way these bears are treated so together we can raise awareness and get help for all of God's creations! wowjam.com is our website. I hope I hear from you. God Bless You my brother and may He give you many more years to fight the good fight. Stephen Tavani


Ronnie   August 8th, 2009 9:42 pm ET

After reading all of these blogs for at least the past hour I have to comment as well. I live about 15 mintues from Cherokee and my wife works on the reservation. I have never been to any of theses Bear habitats, but its a simple resolution. Give them more of a natural habitat and everyone will be happy. The casino gives out so much money on the reservation each year, so what is a little extra to improve these elements with all of the negative exposure their receiving. As far as Bob Barker and Peta go, I applaud Chief Hicks for his stand in banning them! I watched Bob on the channel 13 news (local) when he arrived. He pointed his finger at the screen and stated, :There WILL be changes on the Cherkee Indian reservation". What gives him the right to come onto a reservation and be so arrogant and rude. He's not a member of the council and he;s defintily not the Chief. I am so sick of animal rights activists and people in our courtrooms trying to push their weight aropund as the bullies we had in elementary school. Thank you for standing up Chief Hicks and having some guts! Maybe the rest of America can take note and tell these idiots to get lost. As for the Bears, just make a better habitat for them and everyone is happy. Owners ask the Council, Chief Hicks, and the Casino for some help! I bet it will come quickly!


terry   August 8th, 2009 9:43 pm ET

animals should be taken care of but peta is a radical group you can not believe much of what they say, are any of you as concerned about children . i doubt it !!


Ralph   August 8th, 2009 9:44 pm ET

Enough of this. Anyone who can find in their heart (or lack of heart) any justification or excuse or rationalization for the mistreatment of any living creature is a sick, broken, sad human. We live now. We are collectively responsible for what is occurring now. It is our obligation to reduce and erase as much suffering and pain from this world as we possibly can. That includes all animals, not just the human ones. If that is too much for anyone to deal with or to understand then they should seek help and guidance and, if that fails, they should then pray and hope that there isn't an afterlife. "Is there any cause in nature that make these hard hearts?" King Lear, 1605.


Susan   August 8th, 2009 9:44 pm ET

I have to respond to Sam. I don't want to take up your time Sam, but you do not have the right to torture, abuse or mistreat anything or anyone just because you live on a territory that you consider your domain. When you mistreat or abuse anything or anyone it becomes everyones business and everyones problem.

I don't eat bear or wear bear or advocate bear zoos. I don't vote with my wallet, I vote with my head and my heart. Get your nose out of your ass.


mark russo   August 8th, 2009 9:46 pm ET

Bob,

Many years ago I worked at a Zoo and helped create the Performing Animal Welfare Society with Pat Derby because I was greatly disturbed at how Zoos and theme parks treated their animals. If these bears can be relocated to Pat's facility in Gault, California, I know their lives and diets would be vastly improved. She is a Mother Theresa for animals, I urge you to do all you can to get those bears out of confinement and to her compound.
Chief Hicks, what about the Cheerokee Prayer Blessing:
May the warm winds of heaven
Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit
Bless all who enter there.
May Your Mocassins
Make happy tracks
in many snows
and may the Rainbow
Always Touch Your Shoulder
Chief, please listen to your fathers,
let the Rainbow touch these bears....


Dr A.M. Freed   August 8th, 2009 9:48 pm ET

Dear Mr. Bob,
If you want to help the bears, please, please contact "Best Friends" or SPCA or other organizations, not PETA. They have no teeth and a very, very bad reputation among donors like me. There are organizations that are especially well equipped to help immediately, PETA will just run the publicity without saving the bears.
May Angels watch over you and your loved ones and especially the poor bears.


Nick   August 8th, 2009 9:50 pm ET

It's a SHAME that these poor bears are kept in these LOATHSOME, LOATHSOME conditions.

Those respoinsible for this cruely should be prosecuted and thrown into a tiny cell.


Hans   August 8th, 2009 9:55 pm ET

Way too many PETA haters ignorantly making comments on this site. The story isn't even about PETA. It's about helpless non-human animals, yet again, being deplorably misused for the financial profit of a few numbed human animals. (Yes, humans are animals—ever heard of a mammal?)

I simply ask all who rightfully question PETA's beliefs & motives to go to their website and investigate the matter for themselves. It's my belief you'll find they're actually one of the least hypocritical organizations out there, and their methods—while often wacky—have been very successful at drawing attention to the plight of creatures that are unable to protect themselves.


Shariq   August 8th, 2009 9:56 pm ET

Good job bob! Thanks for keeping up the good work and bringing awareness to sad situations such as this. No one deserves a free pass on being harmful to animals who can't even defend themselves.

How sad. I do, however wonder what their side of the story is.

Does anyone have any pictures of this place?


AD   August 8th, 2009 9:57 pm ET

Thank you, Mr. Barker for speaking up on behalf of these beautiful creatures. You are a true American Hero. It takes courage to go against the grain, but luckily those who care about non-human animals are becoming the norm. Thank you, thank you for never forgetting about the animals who rely on humans to spare and save them from cruelty. In addition, we all need to educate ourselves of the cruelty in factory farming, the most egregious of animal cruelty in my opinion. It is hard to look at, but with courage and strength we can all stand up and speak against the cruel confinement of animals in factory farms. We are getting there, but all need to be as brave as you.


Sue   August 8th, 2009 9:58 pm ET

I visit the Maggie Valley area frequently because I have grandchildren there. We have gone to Santa's Land from time to time because the kids enjoy it.

I am not an activist, I am not fond of PETA, but I was appalled from the very first time I saw the bears. I wrote several letters to the State of NC about it, and was told they have no authority to do anything.

This is not about the Cherokees or anyone's sovereignty or the plight of the homeless. This is simply about the bears. Of course they can't be set free. What they need is an improvement to their habitat at Santa's Land. How hard would that be to accomplish?


Pepe Santos   August 8th, 2009 10:06 pm ET

Good job Bob. Bob is a full-blooded Cherokee himself BTW.


lynne   August 8th, 2009 10:12 pm ET

TO SAM WHO THINKS IT'S OK TO DO WHAT YOU WANT ON LAND THAT IS IN A PERSON'S JURISDICTION: NO!!! Sane people do not allow the mistreatment of animals. Period.
Thanks to all of you who posted positive responses to Bob Barker for speaking up and for advocating the appropriate treatment of animals.
I remember when I first started visiting the zoo in New Orleans. It was a horrible place, vile odors, sick and miserable animals in tiny inappropriate cages. A disaster. Then there was a zookeeper in California, I believe, who spoke up, saying that if we were to have zoos in the US, they should be places where the proper care of animals was shown, a learning environment where animals were housed in areas that were similar to their own habitat. This courageous man started a national movement and the New Orleans zoo followed his example. Now the zoo in New Orleans in known for its beauty, learning environment, and is worth visiting. I recommend that the Indians follow this strategy and fix this situation.


Mark M.   August 8th, 2009 10:15 pm ET

I went there years ago with my Mother. She saw the good, "better than being killed". I saw the reality, that some things are worse than death. I remember a baby bear in a tiny plastic case pacing back and forth over and over. I'm pro American Indian and I think this is counter productive to their cause. Of all the animal protection organizations out there only PETA has the guts to show photos of the real treatment. I'm a proud member. We can do better as Americans.


lynne   August 8th, 2009 10:16 pm ET

Susan,I agree with you; there is a direct correlation between caring for animals and treating people well. In fact, those who treat animals badly are very likely to be violent toward others, including children.
Most people who love animals, love children, too.


jt lachappelle   August 8th, 2009 10:18 pm ET

Evidently, it is as they say: opinions are like A-Holes. Lots of differing opinions here, lots of contradictory stories. Personally, I have to say that Bob and his side have the most compelling story, as opposed to the few apparent rogues who say the bears are in great shape.

Someone is lying here...and whats more likely, that Bob Barker is lying, or that a couple of jerks that probably work at or OWN the bear zoos are lying? Who has more to gain?

I say keep going Bob, youre the best...we need more guys like you.


James   August 8th, 2009 10:18 pm ET

I dislike PETA, but my respect for Mr. Barker carries the day on this issue. There are few individuals whose lifetime body of devotion to a cause – any cause – is as impressive as that of Bob Barker. So, if the care of these animals is not promptly improved, then either a government must intervene or public pressure should be mobilized into shaming the local and tribal governments to take action. A few dozen people with placards, sleeping bags, and a TV reporter should get some action.

Bob, keep up your magnificent work.


joanne   August 8th, 2009 10:22 pm ET

I think it is about time there was a tax on animl food and things related to animals to pay for all the neglected animals in the world and also to increase the license fee tocover more of the mistreatment of animals. I don't have animals becaue Ican't take care of them and everone shold do he same.
I AM SO TIRED OF ALL THIS BETGGING FOR FOOD AND CARE OF STRA Y ANIMALS


Christa   August 8th, 2009 10:29 pm ET

DPE,
Do you feel better, now? And what, exactly, does any of that have to do with the plight of bears in roadside attractions? Absolutely nothing. How about we all just stick to the topic at hand and try to find a solution that is mutually beneficial to the bears and the Cherokee? Whining about Bob Barker's legal woes just makes you look childish and it does nothing to further your cause. It appears that you have no leg to stand on so you're trying to distract everyone from the original issue. What do you think about how the bears are kept in Cherokee roadside bear attractions?


Angela248   August 8th, 2009 10:43 pm ET

First of all, as some have mentioned the phrase "Floridiot" I guess I can be included in that group. Another group I can be included in would be the Oconee, Creek, and Cherokee Tribes based on my family history. I do not agree with the ways that these animals are kept and cared for and I think that the tribe needs to find a way to better their stuations. Saying that, I believe that PETA would be able to offer guidance and even put the right people in touch with the tribe to help with building and maintaining a more suitable habitat for the bears. I don't say to go in and take all the animals away...there are ways to make both sides happy while making sure the animals are comfortable in their habitats. I'm not a huge PETA supporter but I do keep up with what they do. Some of their ideas are too far "out there" for me and Ingrid Newkirk has taken too many rides on the crazy train in my opion but don't let this deter you from speaking up on behalf of animals. I agreee with a LOT of what PETA does and they are a good source of information. I do eat meat on occasion but have been trying to eat less for health reasons. I do not wear fur. All of my companion animals are spayed and neutered, fed, watered, groomed, and have regular vet visits (even my birds). The whole thing in a nutshell is that if we are going to keep ANY animal....dog, cat, bird or even bear it is our responsibility to see that they are healthy, happy, fed, watered, and have appropriate shelter and get plenty of exercise. That alone cuts down on the money that has to be spent for vet trips. If the habitat for these bears was appropriate it would be a good start.


C.J.   August 8th, 2009 10:52 pm ET

Bob Barker's been sued by eight women?!?!?! I had heard about 4 or 5 lawsuits but I didn't realize he'd been sued that many times. I know a couple suits were for racial harasment, and some were for sexual harasment. Were the rest for sexual harasment? I know my favorite redhead Holly Halstrom sued him and won millions, and most of the women that sued Bob got out of court settlements, but what happened to the rest? Anyone know?


Lynn   August 8th, 2009 10:59 pm ET

On the EBCI reservation, all businesses are leased or owned by natives. If an outsider wants a business they MUST lease it from a native. Also, if the tribe doesn't like the business for some reason they can pull that lease. Yes, it is natives that have the final say so on the type of business as well as the tribe its self. As far as the EBCI being poor. All enrolled members get around 8K per person each year from the casino earnings. They also get free medical care, child care, college education at no cost as well federal tax exemption status(on and off the reservation) etc. The tribe also has native prefrence when it comes to hiring. They are not poor compared to tribes out West and Plains such as the Rosebud being a prime example. Also to those that say people should stay out of native affairs then answer me this- If the natives can have a say so in state, county and federal elections why can't others have a say what goes on the reservation? Turn about is fair play. The "they took our land" is NO excuse for animal abuse or anything else. People choose their circumstances and way of life. Animals do not. No one has yet to mention the fact that many businesses on the reservation have 2 different prices for things. A lower price for natives and all others have a higher price. One of them used to be and possibly still is one of the bear prisons. I can name at LEAST 2 other businesses of the top of my head. I don't always agree with PETA but something does need to be done. Looking over the EBCI reservation as I write this I urge people do not come to Cherokee. This is one of the most predijudice, and greediest tribes in the country. Go vist other indian reservations. Embrace native culture and learn how other tribes truly respect people, the land and most of all the animals. Please do not judge all native tribes by the ignorance and bullishness of one.


officer_krupt   August 8th, 2009 10:59 pm ET

fish are our friends not food...oh sorry...were talking bout bears ...we all should have the right to bear arms!


Lyle   August 8th, 2009 11:02 pm ET

Why are people mean to animals?


Susan   August 8th, 2009 11:02 pm ET

C. J. – DPE will fill you in.


JN   August 8th, 2009 11:48 pm ET

Thank you for calling attention to this.
Too often we humans laugh at the suffering of animals. We've made their suffering 'humor' to us. If we stop laughing at cruelty, there will be no more market.
Bob Barker–I've never watched game shows–but you are a lovely man to bring this up. Please all celebrities who can make headlines and impressions on our youth against animal-cruelty–DO!


Melody Chapin   August 9th, 2009 12:00 am ET

Thank you Mr. Barker for your kindness toward animals. I too am an animal lover. I cannot understand how people can be so cruel and apathetic toward animals. You are an angel.

Melody Chapin


VBartilucci   August 9th, 2009 12:01 am ET

PETA members don't have pets, they have "animal companions."

Bob Barker is a fine (if randy) man, his respect for animals and his desire for their well being is reasonable and reasoned. Wanting to see animals kept in safe and healthy conditions is perfectly reasonable and supportable.

Alas, PETA's endgame is not as reasonable and reasoned. PETA's goal is to ELIMINATE zoos and circuses, because ANY "incarceration" of animals is percieved as cruelty by them. So is eating honey and using wool, since it exploits the poor creatures.

It's just that most people don't know that. They hear stories like this, stories that anyone woud agree (at face value) that conditions could be better, and think that's the types of things they help. They don't hear about the desire to have our kids stop drinking and eating dairy products because it's cruel to take the cows' milk away.

THIS sounds like a thing that should be looked into and likely improved or stopped. But PETA doesn't just want to stop the BAD things. They want to stop ALL uses of animals.

Unless, of course, one is diabetic and need insulin from pigs. Then apparently it's fine to put one's life above an animal. It's probably that Sgt. York defense.


Pam Holt, Los Angeles, CA   August 9th, 2009 12:07 am ET

Thank you, Bob. You are a true hero of mine and the animals. I think your intervention has a good chance of ending the barbaric cruelty. Bless you, Bob!


Alicia   August 9th, 2009 12:25 am ET

I have never seen the condition of the Cherokee bears, but I have seen the 3 Bears Gift Shop in Pigeon Forge, TN and it was one of the saddest and most repulsive things I have ever seen. I'm no animal rights activist- just have a soft spot for them- but this is something that should never be acceptable. But maybe leave PETA out of it? I think that group does more harm than good for their cause.


Donald Kevin Trueland   August 9th, 2009 12:33 am ET

I remember going to Cherokee every fall when I was younger, but we would stay in the Oconee area mainly and camp, but visiting the bear pits saddened me every time because my mom would point out the obvious, and pitiful conditions they were in. Truly striking how ten years later I'm reading this. Nothing's changed it seems.


Hans   August 9th, 2009 12:36 am ET

"THIS sounds like a thing that should be looked into and likely improved or stopped. But PETA doesn’t just want to stop the BAD things. They want to stop ALL uses of animals.

Unless, of course, one is diabetic and need insulin from pigs. Then apparently it’s fine to put one’s life above an animal."

More accurately, PETA wants humans—specifically lab-animal-lovin' scientists—to find other, more inspired ways to solve the woes of the world. Not an easy task, on their part. Resistance, like traditions, are strong. Funding—I mean long-term corporate profit—most easily seeks that which is cheapest, known, and "understood". Personally, I commend all animal activists for their efforts to free helpless, captive creatures. More should do the same.


Johnny at Work   August 9th, 2009 12:43 am ET

Suddenly I no longer feel conflicted about my ancestors taking land from the Indians. Turns out they are not the better stewards after all.

BTW Bob, PETA has no credibility. If you really care about animals, and not just cheap headlines, you should align yourself with the ASPCA or some of the private shelters and reserves for wild animals.


Dawn   August 9th, 2009 12:47 am ET

I have been to this place also while traveling and hated it to be honest. Of course the sign to see the bears draws you in because while traveling in this such area it is known they live there and are out and about but so few people actually see them in their natural ways. So go figure people will want to go in and check them out up close as possible, as I intended to do.
The bears in the shop looked crampt and had no room whatsoever though and as a person who loves animals, I thought how sad the conditions were.
It would be the same thing as sending a innocent person to jail.
These animals are taken out of their happy space to live in jail for something they didnt do. It isnt fair to me and I think no matter how much draw the attraction gets, just to purchase a T-shirt they should think kindly about the health and sanity of the animals.


payattn11   August 9th, 2009 12:58 am ET

Over 200 years ago, Voltaire wrote that half the habitable world is peopled by two legged animals. Free the bears and cage the keepers – that would be justice.


David   August 9th, 2009 1:02 am ET

At one time, white men held Native Americans captive in small forts as they prepared to move them west. This was known as the Trail of Tears. Now, Native Americans condone doing the same to bears. Seems odd how history repeats itself if different forms.

Cherokee has held bears on display since I was a boy and I'm in my mid-40s. The world has changed over that time. Cherokee has changed a lot. They now have the casino to draw interest to the area. I think it is time to release the bears.

Bob, I think you did a great thing to appeal to the leader of the Cherokee reservation. I'm sure he is wise and knows that tourism is the lifeblood of the Eastern Cherokee nation. There are too many good things about Cherokee, NC, to let this type of cruelty from the past linger and spoil the improvements made over the years.


GSpot   August 9th, 2009 1:11 am ET

In reading all the smear about Bob and his personal legal suites. Does this have anything to do about the treatment to these Bears. What is the co-relation. If you don't think his mandate is based on betterment to a living breathing animal. What could possible be any other agenda. Even he has better things to do if the facts weren't correct. The evidence is tangible and there for anyone to observe whenever they take interest. What does this have anything to do with some Hollywood types taking advantage of the US way of things and how legal suites are a dime a dozen to make money. Not change anything for the betterment. Any 85 year guy who has the stamina to keep up with these 20/30 year old models is number one in my books anyway. These girls are being opportunistic and sitting on the side lines while some scum bag lawyer extracts some money. Regardless for Bob to take the time, and anyone else for that matter, to help these Bears is admirable. The Cherokee need to get off their sad butts and do something for these animals rather than continually sit around, most drunk, crying foul. They have been treated rather well in the overall scope of things but of course like some many other minorities cry discrimination in every situation. Its lost its affect and abused. Take care of the bears and get on with life.


Jay   August 9th, 2009 1:12 am ET

I am no fan of PETA, but I am even less of a fan of people who abuse animals out of depraved indifference and exploitation. I am shocked to read of this gross abuse of unoffending animals, especially the cub.

I hope this very public exposure will compel Chief Hicks to do right by his position, his people and, most importantly, these animals.


Kristi   August 9th, 2009 1:20 am ET

Why don't they stop whining about something that happened 170 years ago, & take responsibility for their own actions? Their ancestors would be ASHAMED of them. Bob Barker & PETA may not be perfect, but thus far they seem to be the strongest, if not only, advocates those poor bears have. It'll certainly be a cold day in hell before they ever get one cent out of me, if that's how they choose to honor their "proud heritage". Hypocrites!


Cheryl   August 9th, 2009 1:20 am ET

I have a hard time taking PeTA seriously, considering they've urged college students to drink beer instead of milk and put out comic books for kids using scare tactics to promote their agenda that meat is evil and if Mommy serves meat then she supports unethical treatment of animals. They are also hypocrites, euthanizing the majority of the animals they purport to take in with the intention of finding them forever homes. Ethical treatment of animals? Not likely. I've no doubt the majority of PeTA members and supporters have their hearts in the right places and their heads screwed on straight. I cannot say the same about the organization, where executives have been known to equate the plight of farmed chickens with the Holocaust and say the life of a human being is equal to that of an ant. Yes, there are abuses in the poultry industry that must be stopped, but to equate that situation to the wholesale massacre of ten million innocent people (6 million Jews and 4 million homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies, and political prisoners)?

I'm an ardent, active supporter of animal welfare and have zero tollerance for any place that would incarcerate animals in small concrete pens 24/7, malnourish and starve them, and heap numerous other abuses upon them. If what Bob Barker and PeTA alledge is true, I sincerely hope and pray that the USDA, the AZA, and any other organization with any legal clout and ability to take action in this situation comes down on the roadside hellholes calling themselves zoos like ten tons of anvils and makes them face justice for what they've done. I truly want to believe it's as bad as reported, but with PeTA's established reputation for distortion, exaggeration, and being a can or two short of a six-pack, I'm going to have to hear it from a reliable source.


Cold Hard Truth   August 9th, 2009 1:24 am ET

This is truly shameful. I work with a wildlife organization in India which has pretty much eradicated the heinous practice of "dancing bears" which has nothing to do with a bear dancing. It has to do with torturing these beautiful sloth bear creatures by poking a steel spike through their nose and then sliding a crude rope through it which they then tug to make the bear stand up because of the pain. I actually once said to myself thank God we have no one practicing anything close to this here with the exception of the idiots who dog fight. Lo and behold that thought has now been shattered. I will most definitely stay away from Cherokee reservations and urge any type of boycott of any Cherokee enterprise. The bear is one of their sacred totems and is revered as a form of spiritual guide and healer. Have these people no sense of moral to their own truths and teachings. Did they not learn that the way of the "White Man" has never been best for them and that they should not practice the very same tactics they used to try and eradicate their culture. Cherokee, leave these bears in peace or in the end your own Gods may extend this cruelty upon yourselves. I could not agree more with MOUNTAIN LION.


Tannim   August 9th, 2009 1:29 am ET

Someone needs to tell Bob to get a clue about his terrorist pals at PETA/ALF.

Real abuse of animals does occur, but PETA's only shelter has a 96% KILL rate.

Maybe Bob ought to worry more about the plight of the human animal with its problems with child abuse, pedophilia, neglect, homelessness, and poor education instead of dogs and cats.

Nah, that would be taking a real stand, and for that, his Price is wrong.


Maria Lee   August 9th, 2009 1:29 am ET

Way to go Bob Barker. Good for you for getting involved. I wish there were more people like you, so we could make a real difference in the lives of countless animals who are abused and mistreated every single day. I lived in Eastern North Carolina for 3 years from 2005-2008, and while I never saw one of these road side zoos, I did get to experience what it was like to volunteer at an animal shelter. The stories I could tell you would make you cry. Unfortunately, there are not a lof of concerned citizens in NC who care about animal issues.
I'm glad I was able to help a few animals while I lived there. I'm going to PETAs webpage so see how I can help with these poor bears.


Mike H.   August 9th, 2009 1:37 am ET

It puzzles me that we have set aside land within our own borders that are not subject to US laws. Have we done that for any other culture or ethnicity?

Visit Indian reservations and you'll generally find very substandard schools and there is little sign of them getting better. Unfortunately, showcasing animals - arguably in a cruel manner - is but one of the few money-making ventures these people can find employment.

The bears are kept in small cubicles and gain sympathy from a celebrity roaches get gassed by the Orkin man and nobody comes to their rescue.

Some creatures of God are evidently worth more than others.


Ryan   August 9th, 2009 1:45 am ET

Maybe we should put the Cherokee in cages?


Fitz In Texas   August 9th, 2009 1:52 am ET

vickie August 6th, 2009 4:11 pm ET

Tina,

I am also Cherokee and you make me ashamed if you are too. This has nothing to do with the circle of life. That was a long time ago and our people aren’t starving. There are opportunities and taking advantage of the animals that our people use to cherish is not representative of the Great American Indian. I think I have heard the name Running Bear in our tribe. Doesn’t sound to me like these are running bears. Thank you, Mr. Barker, for trying to make our people see that they should be smart and rise above this type of inhumane treatment. If they can, maybe someday we can have a red man in the white house.
******************************************
AMEN Vickie..........and thank you!


Mark Thompson   August 9th, 2009 1:55 am ET

I fully agree that these bears should be cared for. Barker's affiliation with PETA, however, is a problem. PETA claims to care for animals – but the reality is that they have a twisted philosophy that is inconsistent and in many cases more harmful to the natural ecology of animals.

PETA is not a good organization – it is really too bad that Barker had to associate this problem with PETA rather than the local animal rescue league.


mountain myrtle   August 9th, 2009 2:02 am ET

First of all, let's straighten something out here– in an earlier post someone said something about the Cherokee being allowed to live on the land – well time for some history- the eastern band was formed primarily because the people of the area paid for the land back in the early 1800's, however because they were Indian and could not legally own land,a man by the name of Thomas held the deeds in his name in Georgia, so therefore the government could not force them off. Now a couple of other things- Mr. Barker stated that the bears the lady saw had fur hanging off of them–hello-has anyone ever heard of molting? They do that, ya know? How do they think they get rid of their old fur and you can"t exactly comb a bear. Maybe they need to do a little research, befor they start running their mouths. Another thing I wonder is - Has anyone mentioned seeing veterinarian records. I would be willing to bet they get much better medical care than they would in the wild. In my house I have 6 cats and a dog, all of them inside animals- at times I feel guilty, too. They don't get to be outside to roam, yet research shows that indoor pets live longer. Perhaps that could be so for the bears. If you've ever seen black bear in the wild they are kind of small and skinny looking compared to other types of bear. The bears are fed well because after all that is their cash cow. See I grew up 20 miles outside of Cherokee, I see alot and I know alot- one thing is that many attractions in Cherokee are not even run by the Cherokee, so they are probably not the ones making the profits – they are employed there. Another thing I know is that wild bear are mainly threatened now because of development that has gone crazy in our area, typically by people who are from south of here and are not smart enough to realize that when they move into the "cabin" on the top of the mountain, they are moving into the bears territory. What Mr. Barker and his friends did wrong was to come barreling ass in here thinking that he would throw his weight around, and that of PETA and demand changes that he thought he would get– on the news here there were stories of his pending visit for a month before and his guns were already blazing. Perhaps if he had done some research beforehand and came well armed with facts and a little bit of diplomacy he might've had better results. N ow, would anyone like to continue the subject of development and the damage these dumb people do to animal habitat and maybe the cruelty associated to that?


Care Bear   August 9th, 2009 2:04 am ET

First of all, Bob, when a mother Bear picks up her cub she does so by the scruff of it’s neck. That is the proper way for one Bear to pickup its cubs. When a mother Bear picks up a cub that way it makes the cub docile and puts it into a state of ease. Secondly, Bears will typically hibernate in close, confined places. This is part of their natural behavior and makes them feel secure.
Yes, Bob Barker-by his own admittance-is not an expert on Bears (what does giving away refrigerators have to do with BEARS, Bob?), but he is trying to implement policies on a subject of which he has no expertise; therefore he should not be commenting on things that are not to his knowledge unless he takes the time to properly inform himself of the facts and to separate his own personal bias. The real tragedy here is the PETA organization itself; an organization that misrepresents their supposed cruelty-prevention programs when they in fact destroy over 90% of the animals donated to their residence in Norfolk, Virginia. These radical animal rights activist have automaton opinions based upon personal biases instead of facts or empirical research. They want to implement policies that would have permanent effects; policies based exclusively on their own hypocrisy. It’s funny how Bob Barker and PETA want to selectively choose what is supposedly right or wrong for an animal, but they have no problems implementing their sexual mutilation campaign for the convenience of pet owners. Now, PETA will be one of the first people to point out that they must speak for those animals which cannot speak, but do you think that if an animal could speak it would say, “Yes, PLEASE slice off my testicles and deprive me of my natural right to be a sexual creature”?


Holly   August 9th, 2009 2:07 am ET

Thank you Bob. This is so sad, and I hope this horrible treatment ends. I actualy work on a Native American Reservation in Arizona, and they are very upset about the way these bears are being treated and feel that this is against their beliefs about nature and the importance of animals in the world. I'm sorry, but shame on this tribe, for ignoring their fundamental beliefs about nature, and the appreciation for nature and animals. And may karma come around on those that treat these animals poorly, may someone throw them around by their necks, causing them pain, maybe then they will have an understanding that all living creatures feel pain.


James Greene   August 9th, 2009 2:13 am ET

I know I will get flamed for this–but I don't care:

NO WILD ANIMALS belong in CAGES of any type at any time. It is sickening. When I was taken to a reputable zoo as a small child I had to be taken away because all I did was cry. It was clear to me that the animals were all in the wrong place. I didn't understand why people did that then and I still don't. What is the attraction of seeing an animal in an enclosure. It is just pathetic.

DOGS and CATS are pets. Other animals belong in their NATURAL HABITAT and only there. Period.


James Greene   August 9th, 2009 2:19 am ET

To Hans:
MOST times euthanasia is the best answer to animals that have been ruined and can't survive in the wild. People don't want the excess animals and yet they breed and breed and breed and breed more. Especially dogs. When people don't want the animals and other people just make more–would you keep the animals in prison for years, at great expense, just to continue the suffering of the animal? Put them down and give them some peace.
My local dog shelter kills over 4,000 animals a year and people set up shop at the Wal-Mart parking lot (and other places) to sell puppies every weekend. It is a vicious cycle perpetuated by people who don't have a clue that they are the source of the problem (or don't care).

As the good book (right!) says: G-d gave man dominion over the animals. In other words– a cart blanch to do whatever we want, whenever we want, because they are just animals and they are there exclusively for us. Twisted, twisted stuff.


Darius   August 9th, 2009 2:36 am ET

If everyone was only like BOB in this world. I am currently trying to get a zoo closed down in Carolina Beach, NC ( Tote Em Zoo). This establishment has been open for years and in my opinion is not like any other zoo I have been to. The lions and bears along with other animals, have no room to move around and live a comfortable life. Please, if you get a chance go see it and let your voice be heard. Apparently, most people can't hear the animals cry for help.


lolanni   August 9th, 2009 2:45 am ET

The Indians have been on the dole for far too long. Is this really the best they can do with animals that are part of their history, when they are getting a free ride anyway? It makes all of of us who actually work and pay taxes sick. They capture and torture these beautiful creatures to live off them, and then they whine when they are questioned about doing the right thing? Why not just say you're right, the animals we hold captive deserve good treatment and correct it? I've seen the way they treat their stray dogs and cats in Monument Valley. Barbaric.


Faye   August 9th, 2009 3:19 am ET

I sincerely thank Bob for trying to help these bears and other abused animals of all kinds. Talking to people who do this is like talking to a wall. I've tried so many times and I will never give up trying, but boy it is a challenge to get anything done. Only strict laws that are enforced will ever stop animal abusers. When they are caught and severely punished by heavy fines and imprisonment they sometimes learn, such as the case with Vick, but just trying to convince with words is futile. These people lack common sense and compassion. We can't talk them into doing what is right. It's a very sad shameful thing. We must keep trying regardless though, so never give up.


its over   August 9th, 2009 3:38 am ET

. . . and how are humans kept in American prisons??


Jerry   August 9th, 2009 3:49 am ET

Being Native American and living my life around reservations this is the ignorance that resevations bestow on the people. A reservation is not much different than a housing project, they breed poverty, drug abuse, alcoholism, etc. etc. Very few tribal members have the skills to make a good living and this so called zoo is just a pathetic way these people have contribed to making money, which gets spent faster than they make it. Maybe since it was the government that invented reservations and forced the Indian people to exist on them they should now give them a stimulus incentive to dismantle their bear prisons permanently and do something more productive such as building a Casino to get money from the greedy. Keep up the good work Mr. Barker, its only from many words that progress is made.


Clive H   August 9th, 2009 4:02 am ET

This is NOT about the Indians and their rights
This is NOT about PETA
This is NOT about Bob Barker-he is old, rich, and has nothing to prove.

This is about animals that are underweight, unhealthy, and truly in poor conditions. There is money in the reservation to care for their animals but perhaps greed is getting in the way. Casinos bring HUGE revenue for reservations. The least they can do is give these bears more comfortable living conditions. They don't deserve this.

Those of you who are critisizing this article, Bob Barker, and anything else don't know what you are tallking about and need to open your hearts a little more, seriously.


Graig   August 9th, 2009 4:22 am ET

The statement, “The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are treated better than these bears, who have done nothing.” shows just how deeply sick some people are. It's very sad that Bob and and this politician's wife think that Guantanemo Bay detainees seem to deserve their captivity without trial, and the bears should be treated better than them.


JTF   August 9th, 2009 5:02 am ET

So why isn't PETA doing anything about this situation??


tiggertoy   August 9th, 2009 5:48 am ET

james greenbay, I appreciate your comments, it was very well said. I still remember seeing movies in the 80's and early 90's that often put Native Americans in good, spiritual light. After all these casino's came up in Indian lands, I stop seeing such portrayals in movies.


Ryan   August 9th, 2009 5:56 am ET

What really bothers me is when people use their ancestors' hardships to justify their right to do something most people disagree with. I would have to assume that most of the population of North America would have a problem keeping bears in pits and rarely feeding them. But because the Cherokee people have had what anyone of even minimal intelligence would call a tough history does not give them a pass on animal cruelty. Let's use 2 examples that I hate to use, but I guess all the people using the "We were persecuted" defense need to see why it doesn't hold water. Does this mean that becasuse African Americans' ancestors were sold as property, beaten to within an inch of life, separated from their loved ones, and forced to work with no pay that they somehow have a right to go into the woods, grab a wild animal, and throw it in a pit and expect people to come from miles around to pay to feed it? NOPE! Because that is just as absurd as the ancestor agrument for the Cherokee Nation. And I will leave you with the other example, the worldwide Jewish population. With all that went on during the Holocaust and the hate they still deal with from the Middle East, does the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council think that they should be allowed to act counter to what everyone else believees is right just because their grandparents were victims of the worst attrocities this world has ever seen? I guess the host of the show and this blog introducing this topic, Mr. Larry King, proves otherwise. Thanks Bob, Thanks Larry, and a reluctant Thanks to PETA.


stephanie   August 9th, 2009 5:57 am ET

Some people say they agreed until they learned PETA was involved. That is a incrediably stupid statement. PETA is known for shock value and sometimes they do go to far. Fact is, it is happening. People have gone there, took pictures and witnessed this gross abuse first hand. To disregaurd that just because an organization you don't like gets involved after someone else informs them of the situation, is just as ignorant as the people who particapate in being cruel to these beautiful animals. Get over yourselfs and stop speaking from your a**.
These places should be shut down and the tribe should be ashamed and humiliated. I had no idea they were so desperate for money that they would willingly lower themselves and abandoned their own culturel belifes. Until this stops I will never support them and they will never progress farther then a nation of people who have reduced themselves to hurting and shaming other beings so they can scrap by.
And don't go on about how, "we americans rob them of the land and put them there". It happened. A long time ago. There was a war, and we won. It is horrible what we did to them, no doubt, but my god, look at what we did to African Americans. Look at what the world has done to the jews since the beginning of TIME! Point is, other cultures and people have suffered worse and have rised above their struggles. And none of them did it by behaving this way.


J. Beaver   August 9th, 2009 6:20 am ET

If you want to see a zoo that has animals who are not properly fed, housed or given the proper medical care they need, then check out Branson Interactive Zoo and Aquarium formerly known as Predator World formerly known as Reptile Gardens. The name is changed so often, from what the owner said, is to throw off the IRS and he is now on the run. I have seen the animals starved to death and abused physically. I have tried to talk to PETA and they told me I had to press charges with local law enforcement , but thats kind of hard to do when the deputes are friends with the scoundrel behind the neglect. This zoo is located in Branson West, Missouri. Late last year one of my best friends I worked with, 16 years of age, was inside a tiger cage taking pictures for a tourist of them up close. He slipped hit his head and kocked himself out in the tiger pond. They drug him out and didnt mean to hurt him, but they did severely. So badly that he had to be air lifted from the zoo. He's now paralyzed from the neck down! And he's 16! Wheres he justice? Whats is it going to take for SOMEONE to take action please end this roadside madness. People are being killed and maimed and these animals abused. Is this America anymore, America is a country that doesn't tolerate non-sense ask Suddam, oh wait we cant beacause we did something about. Please lets put in some work on our soil first before the rest of the world. Come on America wake up. These roadside zoos are a crooks way of squandering money off the suffering of animals and others if that is not considered a form of terrorism then I don't think we have the slightest clue as in what the hell we are doing to make the world a better place. START HERE! FAMILY FIRST! AMERICA IS OUR FAMILY! Dont just read this DO IT!


Joyce   August 9th, 2009 7:24 am ET

If the bears get hungry enough maybe they'll eat their zoo keepers and end the abuse.


Elaine   August 9th, 2009 7:25 am ET

Can't help but wonder about the connection between oppressed people and their tendency to oppress animals. Some sort of social evolution would be my guess.


Tracy   August 9th, 2009 7:52 am ET

I just visited all three of the bear zoos in question, and while they are not "natural" habitats, the bears are well-fed, with pools, dens and trees and a fairly large space in which to roam. I think the firestorm on this issue is akin to throwing paint on a person wearing a fur coat.

If it's shameful to see a bear in captivity, it's more shameful to see the utter disregard for an area and its people when a group like PETA comes in to throw its weight around.


NC Citizen   August 9th, 2009 7:58 am ET

I live 20 miles from Cherokee, NC and refuse to see the bears, after visiting Santa's Land Zoo years ago, and seeing the two baby bears in a caged area. The "handler" said the zoo gets two new baby bears every year. Question- how do they obtain two bears every year, and what happens to the bears after the zoo closes for the season? Showing the bears is only for uninformed tourists willing to pay a buck to see a bear. That is what the National Park is for. Go see bears in there natural habitat- it is a much more awesome sight.

I agree too, that the Cherokee are much more concerned with making money- I will not go to their casino- twice a year each member receives a big check from casino profits- then they go and spend your money (that you spent at their casino) on fancy cars, liquor, furniture, you name it. Oh, did I mention most are unemployed???


Frank   August 9th, 2009 8:06 am ET

Bob and friends.....Thank You for speaking out and exposing this torture of innocent animals. This is so sad and so wrong....even criminal. For those people I see that have no use for PETA, get a grip, the issue here is that innocent animals are being tortured and abused. Don't start slinging mud just to try spin the issues.

To the Cherokee people, please, do what feels good in your heart and lead us by example so this cruelty and sadness can end.


Barbara   August 9th, 2009 8:16 am ET

Mr. Barker...you had me til you mentioned PETA. Anyone that associates with this org has no credibility in my book.


Brian in WV   August 9th, 2009 8:17 am ET

PETA should lobby to have the definition of "cruelty to animals" redefined. This to me sounds like cruelty to animals. If these people were slapped with heavy fines, then they woukd probably discontinue this behavior. The bears are canines. Would you want to see your family dog treated this way? Or any other creature that was born to roam free at will?


Sarah   August 9th, 2009 8:22 am ET

I have not been to this zoo so i cannot attest one way or the other to the actual condition of the bears.
I *can* say that keeping bears (or other animals) in a zoo so that we can watch them is a *privilege*, not a right. If we cannot care for them properly, we cannot continue to keep them. The comparison between how we treat our children and how we treat 'our' bears is not a good one because we don't *need* to keep bears in the first place. If we choose to do so anyway, then we need to care for them properly, *in addition to* caring for our children properly.
My opinion on 'proper care' for zoo animals would necesitate a fenced natural habitat.


Philip   August 9th, 2009 8:26 am ET

I have been to Cherokee, NC and have visited these areas with the bears for 15 years. I agree that some types of bears need a larger enviorment. The ones I had seen did not have 5 or 6 bears in the same cube. Maybe 2 or 3. They beg for food out of habit. Bob, I seen a TV program to where you and your house keeper allowed a rabbit to run loose in your house and it was nibbling on your chair and other funriture. The chemicals for the treated wood and fabic this rabit had injested You allowed this to happen. Anything can be " labled" cruelty. PETA and its neighbor ALF has knowingly caused more trouble than help. Check out what the FBI has to say about ALF. Bob " come on down " to the truth. The bears need more room, but they are not in the conditions your buddys and good friends from Florida and Virginia Beach has said


Steve   August 9th, 2009 8:31 am ET

Coming from a recent trip in Danali, Alaska and seeing them in their natural world, this story sickens me, I am not a member of PETA but I can recognize when a deplorable condition exists for animals, arent we Gods Keeper of the natural world and its animals?...need to have PETA stand outside the reservation and picket...need more interest in this..thanks Bob for speaking out!


Jeanne C   August 9th, 2009 8:35 am ET

Last year my husband and our three children were about to enter Santa Land when a woman approached us in the parking lot crying – telling us about the deplorable conditions and asking that we not give one penny to the organization. Her entire family looked very upset. My husband and I then asked another person existing about the conditions and they agreed the bears were in pretty sad shape. My husband and I immediately made a decision not to enter the facility and left with our children. While I didn't actually see the bears – the family and the couple looked very upset and I am now very grateful I didn't give the owners any money.

As for all the arguements about a indian autonomy – COME ON? Murder regardless of where it takes place is murder. Same with rape, assault, burglary, etc. The abuse of animails is no different.

I agree that PETA would not have been my first choice ( The SPCA or the Humane Society would have been better) but in the end – its the about the bears.


Sam   August 9th, 2009 8:40 am ET

Dear Susan:
As all people having difficulty relating to humans, you turn to personal insults in an argument.
If you are so concerned about "mistreat or abuse anything or anyone", why don't you voice up a protest about hundred's of people killed in Darfur region of Sudan, or thousands of public executions in China or ongoing slavery in Brazil? You claim to care about animals, what's with not caring about humans? As to " it becomes everyones business" – it's people like you justify "crusade" of US in Iraq, which caused uncounted thousands of deaths and yet untold misery of the million. You are a hypocrite – a well-fed, safe and healthy human.

Dear Lynn:
Pack up and go back to country from which your ancestors came and slaughtered millions of Native Americans in the past.

Dear all:
I DISAPPROVE of mistreatment of people or animals. I simply expect a respect to sovereignty.
And the right of sovereignty is the reason why the State of North Carolina, or the US courts can do absolutely nothing for these animals. It's all up to the Cherokees.


Rene   August 9th, 2009 8:58 am ET

Thank you, Bob, for all the work that you have done for animals. The Cherokee have a rich and wonderful culture – and I hope that they do the right thing by releasing these animals to a sanctuary.

Although I believe the PETA has done wonderful things in the past, I also believe that their recent antics and actions have done so much to damage their movement. I will not support the realease of the bears through PETA, but through some other means.

I wish that a new animal rights group would be established that everyone could get behind – PETA is way too "out there" for me.


irene   August 9th, 2009 9:06 am ET

Oh how uneducated & blinded we humans are!! Just because the "goverment" says a business has met all "standards" does NOT mean those bears are cared for!! The ASPCA has guidlines, too....that means a skinny, mangy, pitiful looking dog,tied to a chain in a hot backyard, can remain with it's owner as long as an agent can "see" food & water on the premises. It DOES NOT mean that owner is actually FEEDING that dog!!!
That is pet dog....can you honestly say caged bears, fed limited food to encourage them to interact with humans, are in an enviroment suitable to them??
Where is the moral justice for ANY mistreated aniaml???


AJ   August 9th, 2009 9:12 am ET

Hey Dave,

Indian reservations are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government when it pertains to violations of the US Criminal Code. These animals do not deserve this treatment or the conditions they are being held. Please do not defend the practices of these business simply based on their being on federal reservations.


Irene Hollimon   August 9th, 2009 9:12 am ET

Road side zoos in general are bad places for wild animals. Usually, the roadside zoo has inadequate facilities to house whatever wild animals they have. Also, the keepers are not usually educated on the care and feeding of such animals. The zoos are run by small businessmen who care only to make money and are not really interested in animal welfare. All of these zoos should be brought to the attention of qualified veterinarians who can assess the conditions and determine what can be done to help these animals.


Jeff   August 9th, 2009 9:16 am ET

Go Bob!


Ken   August 9th, 2009 9:17 am ET

I hope Mr. Barkers concerns are addressed in that the bear habitat should be acceptable for a curious, intelligent species that is being kept captive. But bringing PETA into the conversation raises my hackles nearly as much as bringing in the NRA.


Mobius   August 9th, 2009 9:19 am ET

PETA? Really, Bob?

Wow. Did you hear that. That's the sound of 45 years of admiration and respect I had for you going down the drain.

Why would you associate yourself with a TERRORIST organization?


Art   August 9th, 2009 9:23 am ET

Perhaps, Bob, we can create an equitable situation for both the Native Nation and the Bear? Maybe the Nation would be amicable to creating a habitat, (a retournon a la terre) similar to that of the great park at Sequim Washington. This takes acreage, and money. I have neither, however, the plan is simple: use electrical solar powered fencing to cordon off 25 or so acres, have tourists drive through the park on a "safe" road, bordered by powered fences, and, have the tourists purchase food to feed the bears (usually donated stale bread from a local bakery, etc..) As a sustained means of feeding, herds of bovine, etc, can be raised to provide a substantial amount of protein for the Bear. Native Nationals taught the white man American agriculture... it's time the white man return the education lost due to subservience on a reservation!


Bruce   August 9th, 2009 9:23 am ET

I love how the posts by the local Indians flow. The theme is 'give us you money, and leave us alone as we do not have to follow any rules'.

Hey, maybe it is time to review some very old treaties with the Indians. Heck, we invade and control other countries. Might as well do the same for these nations within our nation.

Love you Bob, you look out for the animals. Someone needs to. You seem to be the only Indian that is....


RLD   August 9th, 2009 9:28 am ET

Go Bob Go!! You are a real friend of the animals, Much better than the price is right!! Make the bears life life better! you wouldn't believe how many people would stand behind you if you needed help. I'm so impressed by your work to make animals lives better.


John V.   August 9th, 2009 9:28 am ET

The problem is Human over-population of regions that are bear habitats. More National & State Parks are needed. I would much rather view a bear from a distance in their own environment that see a bear upclose at any roadside attraction or zoo.


Joe Smoljo   August 9th, 2009 9:31 am ET

Though I haven't seen these conditions, I believe what Mr. Barker says about the bears...Mr. Barker wouldnt lie..i remember his program, Truth or Consequences. He made so many people happy not only on that program but also on the Price is Right...he has a heart of gold..somebody please rescue those bears..and make the ones who did this to them stay in those pits..and beg visitors to throw them food..We are all living things..Nobody should have to beg for food.people or animals..


Evelyn   August 9th, 2009 9:33 am ET

thanks for shedding light via a huge platform CNN, with your huge name behind it. Thank you.

Everyone who really cares about animals knows not to spend a dime going into a place like this... let's hope now those who didn't "get it" finally "get it"... it's about $$$$... don't pay to see and it will go away.

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Wy. handles keeping bears and wolves and does a pretty good job with a hard task.

We need Zoos, it's good for kids to be able to see animals up close that they will never see otherwise. We need people to see animals up close so that they will help Peta and other organizations..

We need people who have the public eye to speak for the animals and keep conditions going up to higher and higher standards.

Bob, hang in there, keep writing, keep speaking... Thank you. I know it would be easier to play golf and not be involved but THANK YOU from all of us who care...


Ty Davis   August 9th, 2009 9:34 am ET

IF YOU THINK THE BEAR EXIBITS IN CHEROKEE ARE BAD, GO TO HELEN, GA. THEY HAVE THE WORST BEAR EXIBIT I HAVE EVER SEEN. IT IS HORRIBLE. I HAVE BEEN RECENTLY TO CHEROKEE AND VISITED SANTA LAND WITH MY FAMILY. I SAW THE BEARS THERE. ALTHOUGH I HATE THAT THE BEARS, AND ALL OF THE OTHER ANIMALS ARE CAGED THERE, THEY ARE IN MUCH, MUCH BETTER CONDITIONS THAN THOSE IN HELEN, GA.


debbie   August 9th, 2009 9:35 am ET

i have seen the conditions that the bears live in, it is pitiful. the same conditions apply to the bison/buffalo areas in oklahoma. i was appalled by how the buffalo were kept in small cages, with mud and feces dried onto the hair of the buffalo(or what was left of the hair), open sores etc. When talking to the owners, they will tell you it's their land, federal laws do not apply.


Art   August 9th, 2009 9:38 am ET

I am not quite sure how many generations are required of a family to reside on a contenent to be considered "native American", however, my family arrived in Nova Scotia from France 15 generations ago. We have been run off of our land in Canada by the British, to Louisiana. So, I would say we have experienced the same "heartbreak" as any "Trail of Tears Marcher" as any "true Native American". So, when you "natives" express that you are so less empowered than the "whites", I kind of don't respect that stance as a valid argument to validate treating your own bretheren with such careless indignence that you can't provide for them any help to improve their abusiveness of the Land and the spirit of the Bear.. It is not the white man who was conquored, it was your inferior "native" souls. -Art, an Acadian and Micmac.


Zealy   August 9th, 2009 9:39 am ET

This is a disgrace! The Cherokees teach that we are one with the universe and its inhabitance, so how can this be tolerated by the Eastern Cherokee Council? I have a Cherokee heritage and proud of it, but I have to hang my head in shame over this issue. I hope the Cherokee Council will do the right thing and remove the bears from capitivity. I can only imagine what our Cherokee ancestors would think.


susanbellnc   August 9th, 2009 9:40 am ET

OK, I am NOT a fan of PETA. I feel they often go too far and are a bit too radical in their actions.

That being said, I agree with Bob and PETA about the situation in Cherokee. I live in the NC mountains and have thought about visiting Cherokee as I would love to learn as much as I can about Native American culture. After learning about the deplorable conditions these bears are kept in, I don't see myself visiting any time soon.

Native Americans have long been known for their respect for wildlife, and this is a huge blight on them and their culture and history. Gandhi once said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." I wonder what this situation is saying about the Cherokee Nation.


Kayla   August 9th, 2009 9:40 am ET

I would think any organization bringing attention to animal abuse would be better than none at all. Bob Barker was an angel to care about the bears and evidently has respect for PETA or he wouldn't have contacted them.

Please let us all do our part, whether small or large, to help the creatures of our world who are exploited, abused, neglected and suffering because of what humans are doing to them.

Man seems to be intent on bringing destruction upon ourselves even as we see the harmful effects before our very eyes. It stands to reason if we continue depleting our natural resources and harming our environment (which includes animals), current and future generations will suffer the consequences.


robert   August 9th, 2009 9:41 am ET

One solution, don't go! If it doesn't pay they have to close. Pure and simple. Well done Bob, it's a shame some people are making this an anti First Nations issue when it's realy all about the animles.


Chris   August 9th, 2009 9:42 am ET

Tina,

You state that people need to understand your culture. What culture truly believes, as part of its culture, that it is appropriate to take an animal of nature and lock it in a concrete cell?

I am just trying to understand what culture you are referring to. It was my understanding that native americans shared the belief that everything in their culture arose from the belief of the souls of nature and that the animal world was a large part of that. Now, it sounds more that you speak understanding your culture, you mean understand how folks need to make a buck.


Lu   August 9th, 2009 9:45 am ET

Dave is one sick puppy. Just because those bears are on a reservation, doesn't mean you are licensed to abuse and neglect. Shame on all of you involved with the care those lovely bears. Release them to a santuary asap where they can be properly taken care of and don't replace them with any other animals.


John   August 9th, 2009 9:48 am ET

Great job Bob. Wish everyone would care as much as you do. I support you in your efforts and will definitley not visit the animal sweat shop.


Lorie W.   August 9th, 2009 9:50 am ET

Go get em BOB!!


Lori   August 9th, 2009 9:52 am ET

It is a sin to abuse animals and how we treat animals is a reflection of our self.


Christina Jester   August 9th, 2009 9:52 am ET

I can't believe that anyone would allow such beautiful animals to live in such conditions that we would not let ourselves live in. They deserve the same rights as a human, there are those who complain about the bears coming to close to their homes, well then if that upsets you then stay away from theirs. we are expanding so much that the wilderness that once house such animals like bears and wolves the most are disappearing and we have no one to blame but ourselves.


brick   August 9th, 2009 9:53 am ET

I'm thinking this may be a good way to help Obama get the healthcare passed... include the bears.


Hroonk   August 9th, 2009 9:54 am ET

It seems that the Cherokee tribe has lost it's roots. Casino Cash is worshipped and the bear people are kept in cages to draw the white eye and his money to the sacred hills. Shame on the Cherokee people. You have been selling your souls for trinkets since the white man hit the beach.


Lance   August 9th, 2009 9:57 am ET

Kudos to Mr. Barker. I hope his efforts work. There's something about how we treat those in our care that demonstrate the base of our culture. But make sure those bears get a proper home – in the woods or elsewhere. Great to know someone with influence is doing the right thing.


Catherine   August 9th, 2009 10:12 am ET

I didn't expect to cry when I read this, now I'm crying buckects


Matt   August 9th, 2009 10:12 am ET

I was really surprised at how enjoyable and moving Bob's article was, and at what a quality writer and orator he is. I hope he succeeds in his goal of helping those bears.


susan   August 9th, 2009 10:16 am ET

What about the World Wildlife Fund, WWF? I wonder if they would intervene? They are a global conservation group. I wish I could do something dont have the authority. I hope something is done to protect these precious,beautiful animals.So sad!


Pragmatic   August 9th, 2009 10:17 am ET

While there is a legitimate concern here with the treatment of these bears, the fact the PETA is involved really detracts from the credibility of the story.

It is unfortunate that CNN is associating itself with the most radical animal "rights" group around. The same can be said for Bob Barker. PETA has no credibility with the majority of people in North America.


cat   August 9th, 2009 10:18 am ET

how can any treat animals like that! People are sick idiots!! Good for you Bob and Peta! lets boycot the Idians and their Casinos! These animals need us to be their voice! I had no idea this was going on. people are so uneducated!


BearTax   August 9th, 2009 10:18 am ET

Who cares? If it's really a problem just shut the place down. Sometimes I think it takes more time to gripe about it than to put some action into it. There's a state rep and a celebrity involved. Do I really need to know about this?


Kathy Russell   August 9th, 2009 10:19 am ET

Thank you, Mr. Barker, for reporting this story. Surely there is someone that can do something about this situation with these bears. They are beautiful creatures of God and it is mankind's responsibility to help them. They need to be in a place where they can have all of the food they want and they can wander around and be happy. No one needs to support these so called zoos. Please voice your opinion on here and let the owners and employees of these place know, America stands for something better than this bull crap. I will pray a special prayers for the sweet animals today, that they can get some freedom and happiness in their lives. God Bless The Bears.


lcaroliner   August 9th, 2009 10:21 am ET

Unfortuantely, we saw such road-side bear zoo in Montana between Galcier Nal't park & Kallispell. We did not visit said place beacuse it is disturbing to think that these animals are caged when their natural home is literally right behind them. We went on to Yellowstone & were fortunate to see grizzlies and black bears in their natural environment and stress that the preservation of nat'l parks, forest and other land is, yes for the "enjoyment of the people" but more importantly for the preservation of habitation and vegitation of animals. In West Yellowstone they do have a facility were you can see such bears and coyotes up close and in a contained area but it is reported that this is for animals that were deemed harmful to humans. If we kept to the laws of the park and observed through scoops I am sure the animals would not be harmful...only when idiots don't respect their home. FREE THE BEARS and RESPECT their HABITAT!!


Jes Tarp   August 9th, 2009 10:23 am ET

Stay with the refrigerators


Molly   August 9th, 2009 10:29 am ET

It used to be that having American Indian lineage was something to be proud of. But anymore, it's a mark of shame. The casinos, the drinking, playing the victim card long after the fact, and now their blatant disrespect for nature and animals.

Yes, the Cherokees went through some very rough times, and were persecuted and had their land taken and all of that. But they'll receive no more pity from me. They're no better than those who slaughtered all of the buffalo and stole their land.

The pictures of the bear enclosures are right there on the website. Just small concrete enclosures with a big stick sticking out of the middle, and a little pool of water, doesn't look to be big enough to even wade in.

However, bringing PeTA into this was a bad idea. They kill more animals than they save. Not to mention, they're terrorists. Eco-terrorists, maybe, but terrorists nonetheless. Might as well donate a hand grenade to the Taliban if you're going to support PeTA. They have no credibility with people who care about animals and care to do a little homework.


Liberty Queen   August 9th, 2009 10:30 am ET

If the Cherokee Nation doesn't care for 'outsiders' coming in and criticising their animal cruelty, tough s**t. If we have to, we will come in and take those bears away and place them in sanctuaries. The Cherokee Nation has a spiritual responsibility to protect and not use any animal for their twisted financial gain. Capturing bears and keeping them in cages, where's the Honor in that, Cherokee People? Answer: There is no Honor. Hang your heads in shame!


scott   August 9th, 2009 10:33 am ET

Not about Native rights, not about politics. This is about changing one little corner of our world, and seeing that other species count. Native people that keep bears in cages are SO American in a modern sense, because it is all about the dollar.


BobThomas   August 9th, 2009 10:37 am ET

Dave how about you living in one of those pits for about a month. We could let you swim for about an hour a day, hose you down every now and then and throw you food. Maby then you would get it.
Dude it's cruel..


Chris   August 9th, 2009 10:39 am ET

Thanks Peta and Bob. Keep the pressure on by using the Internet as a podium for harm and potential change. Also, thank you CNN.

This isn't much different than the Ringling Bros. situation. It amazes me that this continues. Why do people pay to see animal abuse?


Stephen H.   August 9th, 2009 10:41 am ET

WE"RE READY TO GO! THE COUNTDOWN HAS STARTED!

Mark my words, you will hear about a time when "someone" releases these bears back into the wild where they belong and the so-called Native Americans that are holding them will be found in the very same cages that the bears came from. Many people will be upset, while other will cheer these actions.

There was a time in this country when there was a sense of shame for what happened to "the Indians". Now, with gambling and treatment of animals like this, that the Native American is no longer hold that level of respect that their forefathers fought so hard for.

Shame on you for trading in the dignity of your people for a fast buck, white man style!


TnGRan   August 9th, 2009 10:41 am ET

I live about 30 minutes from Cherokee and have gone there many times but have never gone in to see these bears because they charge an outrageous price to do so. I do remember a bear several years ago that was kept in a small cage outside a gift shop and it was free to look at it. The poor thing was shot in the cage one night several years ago by someone. The owners said someone tried to break his cage open then shot him and he bled to death by the time they found him the next morning. Very sad. There are way too many tourists that go in to see the bears for them to stop. The only way you will ever be able to get them to do something is to make it well known how bad the conditions are for the bears. Most tourists don't know. There needs to be a tv campaign or something big like that to make people aware. How about someone sponsoring a big tv ad campaign to bring awareness to the problem ?


gloria   August 9th, 2009 10:41 am ET

Forget the politics of any group, listen to your heart. I visited the area over 20 yrs ago with my then small children. Of course they wanted to see the bears, some sites were OK some, like the small cubs chained all day outside of stores, were heartbreaking. The final straw for me was seeing a sickly looking chicken in a glass box (on a very hot day) that you fed for a quarter and it did, what they called a dance.
Right then and there, I vowed to never keep another animal in a cage.
From our cockatiels to ferret, hamsters etc. I improved our existing pets living conditions and never allowed another pet be purchased for our amusement. You don't have to join anything to make a difference, get the word out about these places and urge people to boycott them. Thanks, Bob Barker


David   August 9th, 2009 10:43 am ET

I commend Bob and all the whistle blowers to this SAD situation. Please support and defend the rights of animals whom cann't otherwise defend them selves. Look at the punishment handed down to M.V. for dog fighting. This is no different, all in the name of money, it's SICK!


Ira   August 9th, 2009 10:43 am ET

There's a real paranoia among all Indian nations to doggedly hang on to claims of sovereignty, and based on history, they have a right to. So while "paranoia" is not the correct word to use here, but I used it for illustrative purposes.

The problem is, this claim to sovereignty often contradicts what is right, humane, and just–and in many cases, what is legal, since their sovereignty only goes so far. Here in Florida and the Seminole and Micossukee, there are many examples of the tribes' arrogance in simply "doing what is right," and this even includes shielding murderers, or DUI manslaughter, taking place on state highways but cutting through tribal lands.

These cases are outrageous, but to simply request proper care of animals and for them to respond with "racism" and "disrespect" just doesn't cut it and shows how far the arrogance goes.

The Indians aren't very well-liked down here because of this. They're usually invisible, take their casino checks, and we on;y hear about them when a tragedy occurs.


Wayne   August 9th, 2009 10:44 am ET

I agree with Jay. I too am not a fan of PETA, but even less a fan of those that disrepect and abuse animals. This is especially disturbing that this is taking place on Native Americans land. These need to be shut down NOW!


rob meehan   August 9th, 2009 10:49 am ET

I am constantly amazed and deeply saddened by the way animals are treated in this world. I don't understand it.


Erin   August 9th, 2009 10:51 am ET

We recently went on a cross country trip through Louisiana and saw something similar to the bears' road side zoo attraction mentioned in Bob's blog. It was at a gas station where we stopped to fill up. A gas station! It disgusted me that these tigers are kept in small cages for their size; however, the animals seemed in good health. I just don't think it's appropriate to keep wild animals caged in pens too small for them. I hope that these "attractions" will one day be banned.


winsdy   August 9th, 2009 10:53 am ET

Imagine a people who were placed on small piece of land, restricted and abused. Sometimes things are recreated that were previously experienced, you wonder where they ever learned to do something like this. .......


Jill   August 9th, 2009 10:53 am ET

I thought the Cherokee people has respect for nature. This shows the Cherokee as money grubbing frauds. Shame on the Cherokees. This situation is deplorable and cruel.

Those Cherokees should be caged and left on their land in cages so we can see some authentic Indians.


jille   August 9th, 2009 10:53 am ET

thanks, bob. your dedication is an inspiration. there are so many animals and people suffering in this world, and the work you do to end as much of it as possible is a great reminder of just how relevant our choices really are. every day we can make a difference just by choosing to support industries - be they food or entertainment - that do not contribute to the needless suffering of others. thank you!


Dan   August 9th, 2009 10:55 am ET

I can't believe I wasted time reading this. PEOPLE complaining about the treatment of animals. Take a walk around you home town and count the number of homeless, starving, PEOPLE you see.We sit in comfort in our living rooms, offices, and coffee shops typing about the poor bears, try sleeping for a night under an overpass, on a park bench, or if your lucky a shelter. Lets spend our resources helping the PEOPLE of our nation that need it, not the animals.

Genesis 9:1-3 says: "Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all of the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything."


r. smith   August 9th, 2009 10:56 am ET

I have seen them also , and there is plenty of money coming out of the casino and stores. They are not starving or doing badly, there is money to upgrade there cages. Just because the minimum is met dose not mean that you should not do alot better. We all need to better ourselves and settling for the minimum is wrong, we need the push in life to make us a better country.


Gary Rea   August 9th, 2009 10:58 am ET

I visited one of these bear parks just last week on a family vacation in Cherokee N.C. The conditions that these bears were in really concerned myself and my family. We were very lucky to have the opprotunity to see black bears in the wild in the Great Smokey Mountain national park. I think what you are doing for these animals is great Bob, but I am also worryied that any involvment PETA has will do more harm than good.


Rob   August 9th, 2009 11:00 am ET

Wow. The moment I saw that Bob Barker had associated himself with PETA, all my respect and good feelings toward the man evaporated. Perhaps he's gone off a bit on his old age (not being facetious there.)

Believe it or not, it is possible to be a responsible human being and be concerned about animal treatment without being a crank.


Kelly   August 9th, 2009 11:05 am ET

As I understand it, this is no longer a matter of Whites forcing themselves on another culture. If people running these sovereign nations don't want bad publicity for the things they do on their sovereign territory, then they should just fix it. Native American tribes rely on "outsiders" to come and spend money in their shops, hotels, casinos, etc. I echo all the sentiments about how the conditions seem deplorable, but think of this issue from another angle as well – economics. If people are boycotting these habitats for a reason such as "perceived" cruelty (whether true or not), the people caring for the habitats and bears, should probably make more of an effort at least to appeal to the masses and keep their livelihoods. This is just an additional argument I make to show that aside from the important cruelty issue, there are other reasons to change the habitats for the better.

Also, one of the reasons these tribes were given back these territories (regardless of whether people agree with it) is for purposes of restitution and so that Native Americans are able to preserve their cultures. From the experiences I have had with various Native American tribes, I have come to understand two common, underlying themes in the cultures – respect and harmony. Not just respect between people of the same ethnicity or race, but of ALL others (whites, animals, nature, etc.). I believe the representatives of this tribe need to stop getting distracted because they feel that they are getting pushed around by people who have no authority of them, and refocus on WHY they have their own authority. They have it to preserve their culture and ideals of respecting nature and animals (as well as each other) even in the face of "disrespectful" dissent.

Again, I have to reiterate that THIS ISN'T REALLY AN ISSUE OF SOVEREIGNTY – IT IS MUCH MORE AN ISSUE OF PUBLIC OPINION. If this tribe wants people to spend their money on the "sovereign" territory, fix this problem.


Cheyla   August 9th, 2009 11:07 am ET

Thank you Bob and PETA for standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves. The true test of these conditions is thus: would you want your children to live this way? The intelligence of all animals on Earth places them as children when compared to humans. We could do better by our children!


Liam   August 9th, 2009 11:14 am ET

Hopefully the views reflected here will be a wake up call for P.ET.A. You are not the voice for animal rights in the US, or anywhere else. I am a life long animal lover and see P.E.T.A. as a terrorist organization....I will never support them in any endeavor.


Abdul-Latif   August 9th, 2009 11:20 am ET

I support what Bob Barker is doing to help these animals, but I object to some of the irrelevant comments that people have made in the article itself and in the comments appended thereto. Why the remark that the bears are treated worse than prisoners in Guantanamo–even though the bears "haven't done anything." Well, first of all, neither have most of the Guantanamo prisoners, other than wearing a turban in the wrong place, at the wrong time. (If they DID do something, put them on trial!) Second, as much as I sympathize with animals, the Guantanamo prisoners are human beings! How can they be compared with bears? It seems racist. Finally, regarding the comments – this has NOTHING to do with the legal status of Native American reservations. It's not as if a separate code of right and wrong applies to Native Americans. They are as much Americans as the rest of us – don't fall for the "sovereign nation" fantasy that has produced casinos all over the place on little patches of Native land.


P.J.   August 9th, 2009 11:20 am ET

It seems to me that the best way to make apoint to the leadership of the Eastern Band Cherokee is to boycott all of the tribes commercial persuits. Contact companies that do busines there, start with Harrahs, Best Western Great Smokies Inn, Cherokee Inn & Suites and certainly don't go to the reserve or support the businesses there. A few thousand fewer visits will quickly send a message to the people that have a say in what happens on the reserve.


lisa   August 9th, 2009 11:22 am ET

Not sure how anyone can defend this place! Took my kids there and was horrified. The bears are in concrete prison cells and they stand up and beg for food. One reason for visiting a zoo is to teach people about an animal and how they live. There is absolutely nothing natural about these bears anymore, not their behavior nor their habitat. It is truly disturbing and cruel. BEFORE YOU DEFEND THIS PLACE, YOU MUST GO VISIT!!!


Steve Rice   August 9th, 2009 11:24 am ET

The "defenders" of these deplorable conditions the bears are faced with are blame the messenger or claim it's the Cherokee Land so its not our business or its Bob Barker and PETA.

If the Cherokee people lived up to their great history they wouldn't be using animals for financial gain. Where in native Indian history did this EVER occur? And just because it's the Cherokee land doesn't mean you don't have to abide by laws. The pressure is building and its only going to get bigger until the Cherokee do what's right for these bears.

Thank you Bob Barker!


Sad   August 9th, 2009 11:25 am ET

I had some sympathy for this article until I read the word 'PETA.' PETA is no friend to animals. If there is a problem with the conditions that animals are living in contact the Humane Society.


Barb   August 9th, 2009 11:28 am ET

Go get them Bob. Zoos are truly a cave man idea and should be banned altogether. Reserves should open that allows individuals to view the animals at a safe distance in their natural habitat. I see this same problem with the MEGA farms that do not allow the cattle outside a confined structure. Cattle farms should be required to provide adequate grazing land for these animals to roam and graze. They need sunshine and the ability to move about with freedom.


pf   August 9th, 2009 11:29 am ET

I had a trip planned to go to Cherokee N.C. this fall....I just cancelled it, and so did my family members. We will be going to Asheville N.C. ONLY.


Solutions Please   August 9th, 2009 11:39 am ET

I cannot speak for all the bear zoo’s in Cherokee, NC however I have visited one a few times. Yes, the bears beg and do tricks for food. They are kept in concrete areas. The concrete areas are relatively large and have pools for the bears to lounge in. Some have trees for the bears to climb. Not really a lot different than what you would see in an actual zoo although somewhat smaller. One or two bears to a concrete area. There is a bio on each bear. If anyone actually took the time to read those bios they would see that these bears are tame. Many of them are rescues from circus acts or from idiots who wanted a pet bear only to figure out they couldn’t maintain a pet bear. I asked the caretakers what the bears did after hours and was told the owners had several bears. They rotate the bears out by taking them home to their place in the mountains. So, they are in a natural habitat part of the time. That is, as natural as it can get for a tame bear. As I said, I can’t speak for all these bear zoos but only for this one in particular. My question to PETA is what would become of these bears if you get this place shut down? Is closing regular zoos part of your agenda as well? Just curious what Bob Barker and PETA’s solution would be? I’m sure many of these tame bears would have been destroyed had it not been for this particular bear zoo. Would that have been a more acceptable solution in Barker and PETA’s view? I’m not going to say these bear zoos are the best case scenario for these bears but until we hear a better solution, I’m not going to jump on PETA’s bandwagon. I want to hear more than just shut them down! I want to hear some solutions! Everyone should be asking these questions prior to siding one way or the other!


Andi   August 9th, 2009 11:39 am ET

Aren't bears and all animals sacred to Natives? Isn't this making a mockery of what they believe in? Someone made a comment earlier saying 'where's the crying Indian now'... as harsh and politically incorrect as this sounds, they are absolutely right.

Furthermore, someone said that an Indian Reserve is no place ofr the government to intervene. Would you feel the same way if humans were bring kept in such deplorable conditions? Some things are just above Native atonomy...

There are laws that protect wild animals, at least here in Canada. It is against the law to cage a wild animal unless you are a sanctuary... and to me these places do NOT sound like they are in place to protect and nurse the animals. I think that these Native parks should be fined for their cruel acts and barred from keeping animals whatsoever.

RIP little cubs.


Steve McNorrill   August 9th, 2009 11:43 am ET

Yes, by all means let these bears and all caged animals back into the wild or destroy them if they cannot adapt. Caged wildlife threatens the very balance of life that God intended unless it is necessary for their survival because of what MAN has done. BUT, all Native American reservations are not subject to any law or opinion of non-native Americans in the United States. If their culture allows this, all outsiders have NO SAY because certainly in their balance with nature there is some offset?


Wayne   August 9th, 2009 11:46 am ET

Bob,

You really need to distance yourself from PETA, which is an extremist anti-human organization. There are many, many animal welfare organizations to choose from, so why associate with such extremists and thugs? You may as well say you want to support Islam in America so you're joining Al Qaeda.


Scott H. Greenhut   August 9th, 2009 11:52 am ET

Well, I feel compelled to add my inflation-adjusted two cents to this lively debate.

Every issue imaginable is more complex than a person first thinks. Invariable many issues and emotions come into play. It's not just the bears but the people who make a living from tourists. And what about the starving children? And PETA is fascist, and Native American rights, and so on.

At the core is treatment of animals. Period. These animals are apparently being treated in a substandard, if not appalling manner. Again, period. Yet, as one reader pointed out, letting them go "free" may not be the solution. It could be a death sentence, too. If raised from the cub to adult in lock-up how would they react to the outside? Would they starve? Would they attack people? Would they have to be euthanized? And if put in a refuge, what about hunters and dogs?

SO, the relevant parties have to get together and decide the right thing to do and how to do it. If the government's standards are too low then, yes, the congressman should bring that to the attention of the USDA. But, ultimately this is a money-driven enterprise. But bear-rights come first. No amount of histrionics about Native American history or economic realities exonerates the owners. Make this a proper, legitimate zoo, or find another place for the bears.

As for Mr. Barker, why shouldn't he use his celebrity status to bring attention to a worthy cause? Others do.

Scott H. Greenhut
Gainesville, FL


MikeFBruin   August 9th, 2009 11:56 am ET

Thank you Bob Barker for using your status to illuminate this very troubling issue to the rest of us.

I am also apalled and shocked and hope something is done soon about this!


Trip H   August 9th, 2009 11:59 am ET

I am so glad that someone has taken notice of the awful conditions of these roadside bear parks. I have created a group on Facebook called: BOYCOTT Cherokee Bear Roadside Parks.

Take the bears out of these dreadful conditions an give them back to nature where they belong.


Joe   August 9th, 2009 12:01 pm ET

As soon as the author mentioned "my friends at PETA" I realized this article had no objectivity at all. The PETA crown is a bunch of nuts.

I don’t believe a word of an anti-animal piece that is written by PETA.


Tiger99   August 9th, 2009 12:05 pm ET

It seem to me that people care more about animals more than they do people what is the big deal about some bears, there are people in the world who is living on the street you dont see BOB out there trying to help them get over it.


Paul Winslow   August 9th, 2009 12:08 pm ET

A picture is worth a 1,000 words. Why no pictures?


Sassy Chap   August 9th, 2009 12:08 pm ET

Tribes all have a cultural and historic reference, reverence and respect for bears, grizzly and black bears alike. To see what is being facilitiated here by the Eastern Band of Cherokees is shameful, and to the nay-sayers, you don't even have to travel there yourself to see it – they are displaying their 'wares' on their own websites!
I am involved in Native Tourism internationally and I will work to ensure that the story of these bears impacts the tourism $$$ of the Eastern Cherokees unless they do the right thing by them. You CANNOT puport to promote native culture as something amazing and worth learning about if you simultaneously abrogate the very tennents of that culture. This is just disgusting, and the Eastern Cherokees have shown the world their true colors!


justin   August 9th, 2009 12:09 pm ET

Happy to see you remaining in the light working for the animals we all love

Long live Bob Barker!


teresa   August 9th, 2009 12:12 pm ET

Thank goodness for celebrities like Bob Barker and Oprah who can get the word out across the nation about animal abuse. Now it's up to us to smarten up and to stop going to these road side "zoos" and stop buying puppies at pet shops. Boycott these places and their revenue will end.
To the good people of Cherokee Nation, is this the way of your ancestors? Please, if not for Bob Barker or PETA, do it for the bears. They too have spirits.


Melissa   August 9th, 2009 12:20 pm ET

Thank you, Bob. I have a friend who told me she had recently been to North Carolina and been very upset after seeing these bears. She had looked around in shock that no one seemed to think it was wrong, or - at the very least - extremely unpleasant. She wondered if this was just the way people in North Carolina treat animals. My family is from North Carolina, and has been for many generations. This is not how people normally do or should treat wild animals. As for my friend, she's a member of the military and comes from an area of the country that hunts heavily. She's not a sheltered city dweller. But she knew without a doubt that this was wrong.

I'm sorry for the people who are pretending that the issue can be devalued merely because PETA is associated with it. PETA is not the issue.


deograine   August 9th, 2009 12:21 pm ET

I have a challenge for each and every one of you that have posted a comment about this article. Open up note pad on your computer and spend about 10-15 min thinking about how your own personal choices have contributed to this problem. Don't think they have? How many square feet are there in the home you occupy? How many people live there? Do you have any rooms that you don't use every day? Do you drive an SUV? Do you drive a car when you could take a bus? This list goes on and on.... How does this contribute? I'll give you one example. The habitat for the polar bear is dwindling away so fast that they have been forced to cannibalize each other because they are starving to death. Why? Because a couple in Charlotte decided they needed a 2500 square foot house even though all their kids are grown and have left home.... Because a lady in Baltimore threw her perfectly good kitchen countertops into the dump because new granite countertops would be so much better...Because a college student at Penn state threw away her disposable soda bottle in the trash after class....It all adds up. No amount of criticism leveled at other people is going to change their behavior until each one of us makes a conscious decision to change our own. That is how we make difference. Words are just words. So now that you have your personal list make a personal commitment to change a couple of your OWN habits. Work on those. That will be much more productive than trying to change someone else through a criticism on a blog. When we finally all realize that we share a planet with finite resources and every time one of us takes more than we need, we are taking it directly away from someone or something else and we decide for ourselves that we aren't going to live like that–then this this topic will be irrelevant. It will no longer be profitable for anyone to cage a bear in deplorable conditions to make a dollar.


Injun Joe   August 9th, 2009 12:22 pm ET

I love to see this issue coming to light, but have to agree that PETA is probably the wrong organization to buddy up with here.

Sad to see animals treated this way in the name of profits.

I've made it a point to stay and spend in Cherokee on mountain trips (usually at least 2 per year), but I'll probably be avoiding it from now on until this ugly cloud goes away and they find better conditions for the bears.


Linda W   August 9th, 2009 12:25 pm ET

A few years ago my husband and I were travelling through Cherokee and stopped at the reservation. We went to see the bears, and were sickened by what we encountered there. The stench was unbearable. Some of the bears were just moving from side to side like they were drugged or traumatized, and all of them had feces matted in their fur. We left as soon as possible, and to this day I regret paying the money to see this. We, too, were told to mind out own business when we complained to the management about the conditions. I had hoped against hope that things had changed...but as long as they keep making money on this atrocity, it will continue to stay the same. We are nature lovers and have seen bears in the wild feeding and playing...what a wonderful change from the trapped and
glazed expressions int the eyes of the bears in the "sanctuary".


J in Whittier, NC   August 9th, 2009 12:28 pm ET

Bottom line, no animal deserves to live in a cage or a pit...The bears need to be living in the Cherokee National Forest, not in a place away from their world so a few people can make money from their presences...why doesn't the Tribe take some of the Casino money to make a proper habitat for the Bears, if they feel they need to make money from the Bears? Did any of the Elders ask the Bears if they wanted to be part of this soul contract: habitation for money? I suspect the Bears would choose to live freely....hm...what if Bears ruled the world and put a few sorry sack humans into concrete slab confines? roughed up their children? The Tribe make it very difficult for anyone to approach them with suggestions around changes.


Jerry   August 9th, 2009 12:35 pm ET

The only way that this will stop is if people stop visiting places like this.


Linda Evers   August 9th, 2009 12:38 pm ET

Sam,
You are wrong on your last point. The authorities CAN do something about this. Felony animal abuse. Its against the law!


Jake   August 9th, 2009 12:40 pm ET

I was taught in school that American Indians had a great respect for their land and the animals that they lived with, whether it was to use them as food, clothing or working animals.

The responses on this thread from the "go away and leave us alone" crowd is eye opening. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the lip service of respecting the spirit of the animals is only that. There is no respect, only exploitation.

Your ancestors are not proud of you.


Sassy   August 9th, 2009 12:40 pm ET

Dear Sam,
No it isn't sovereignty at all. The Eastern Band of Cherokees terms themselves a nation, but the definition of true nationhood is not that the 'nation' is dependent on the US Federal government to fund itself. If this BAND, not NATION was honestly independent, then yes, they could make their own decisions regarding these bears, but they are not. Whilever they take government funding (and they cannot do without it) they should play by the rules.

But this is a moral issue and it speaks to the character of a people who say they are one thing (traditional) and yet act in a manner that is unbecoming to ANY tribe. Undoubtedly, the Eastern Band of Cherokees must step up to the plate and do the right thing.


Jake   August 9th, 2009 12:43 pm ET

Bob's legacy has already been written. He has an immense respect for living animals.

I'm curious, if it wasn't PETA, what group should he have contacted to make the plight of these bears known to all? Make no mistake, I'm no fan of PETA, but in this particular case, they may be the most useful tool.


Dale   August 9th, 2009 12:51 pm ET

While I think the treatment of these animals is pathetic, I stopped reading when PETA was mentioned. I have no use for those fanatics


Chris   August 9th, 2009 12:52 pm ET

As I see it, the problem is not really one involving PETA, Bob Barker, Native Rights, or any of the other satellite issues that this article has spawned. The Immediate Problem is with the Bears.

If I read the words "precious" or "innocent" appended to "Bears" one more time here, I'll likely barf.

Having worked at a Wildlife Facility for over a decade, dealing with human-socialized wild animals, I can empathise with the Keepers in Cherokee. They are faced with a real dilemma:
The bears (having been raised by Humans) are potentially many times more dangerous than one encountered in the Wild would be.

Letting them "run loose and be Free" as the PETA Crowd expouses would present a real and present Danger to the Community at Large, which is clearly unacceptable.

Expanding the Facilities would possibly be an Option... but that alone would induce stresses that the animals would find disturbing (however nice the new digs are). But this expansion would take a LOT ot support from the Public.
As it is, as the places presently pass USDA Inspection... the Bears are clean, well-fed, have a decent water supply, and enough room to move about more or less naturally.

The only other viable Option is to euthanise the animals, and pass Legislation against the future establishment of such places.

It's fairly obvious to me that these bears know their Keepers, their Surroundings, and their Routine. Upsetting that will almost certainly NOT be pleasant for the bears involved... far worse than the conditions they're used to.

Having said that... I will spout off a little about PETA.
They are nothing but a Front-Group for the likes of "EarthFirst! " and the "Animal Liberation Front".... some of the most dangerous and destructive Domestic Terrorists we have here in the States. PETA has been shown to be actively funding these Organizations, and should be held accountable for their actions.

Ingrid Newkirk and the whole PETA Oraganization needs to be investigated, top to bottom. Sadly, most Donators think they're helping precious, defenseless, innocent puppies and kittens (yes, my gorge was rising, typing that...), but what they're actually funding is Terrorism of the worst sort.

I would imagine that Bob Barker was approached by PETA, rather than the other way around... it's sad to see them manipulating the American Public through the endorsements of this senile old TV icon.

People... if you want to help animals (or children, or the elderly, or any group you choose), I suggest that you do it DIRECTLY. Get Involved locally with your Shelter... they will certainly appreciate your time and efforts far more than PETA ever will.


jeff   August 9th, 2009 12:57 pm ET

poor bears


Em   August 9th, 2009 1:02 pm ET

I'm all for treating animals right...

But think about it.

These bears are as good as dead if they don't have those zoos.

They've been around humans – they're now probably too acclimated to humans to be set free. Think of all of the bears in our state and national parks that have to be put down because of this problem.

At least these bears are alive and being fed.

I know everyone loves animals, and there are many sad situations like this, but we have little money at this moment in this wretched economy to prioritize animals over people. Just look at all of the unemployement an all of the buget cuts being made already...

Aside: An excellent intro to our economic problem is presented in that movie that just came out, I.O.U. USA. Rent it – its really good!

I don't know about you, but I'd rather give my tax dollars to getting things right in our economy. Improve our economy as a whole, and we'll have more money to spend on our dear animals and animal sanctuaries.

Maybe the people who really have a heart for these bears in particular can step up and make a donation to some of the existing wildlife sanctuaries. Then you can really make a difference!


Thomas   August 9th, 2009 1:04 pm ET

I agree with many here. PETA's involvement completely discredits this story. I know Bob's intentions are great, and I completely agree that the bears should be removed from these tourist traps, but PETA is the Al Queda of the animal world. They are bullies, they are uninformed, they use sensationalism and violence to get attention and money, and they do absolutely NOTHING for conservation.


Jeff   August 9th, 2009 1:18 pm ET

Well they sent Michael Vick to prison for animal cruelty.....If they are truly being this cruel to animals then they should be sent to jail as well!!!!
If you are cruel to this degree to animals YOU ARE A BAD PERSON!


Joanne   August 9th, 2009 1:22 pm ET

The best way to close these places down is not to go to them. No tourists means no business, and Dave, regarding the federal government having no authority.....when you become self supporting and no longer take any money from the feds, then you can say that.


Thomas   August 9th, 2009 1:28 pm ET

PETA itself is a radical organization. Bob, your story would have been much more credible if you would have kept PETA out of it. If PETA had their way we would all be eating grains to servive.

I have never been to any of the 'parks' but I would bet this story is highly inacurrate.


wayne ferrell   August 9th, 2009 1:31 pm ET

As a kid some 55 years ago we often stopped at a roadside store on Highway 95 near Indian Valley, Idaho where they kept a small black bear on a collar and chain. The cub's mother was killed and it was taken in as an orphan. I felt sorry for the bear but didn't think of this as an ethical issue at the time. Those memories all came back recently when we stopped in the little out of the way town of Mitchell, OR and found a huge black bear caged near the small city park. The faded sign on the cage said declawed bear had been bought from someone in Iowa and
suggested that 'Henry' was living a happy carefree life. He did look well fed but we left this little conservative eastern Oregon town feeling bad for this animal and the people who kept him there on public display.


Esteban   August 9th, 2009 1:33 pm ET

Bears should be treated well. Domestic terrorists should not. Put the worst of PETA in the pens and let their supporters pay to throw food to them.


Kirsten   August 9th, 2009 1:35 pm ET

As a Native American myself, I am very appalled and ashamed of the treatment of the bears on the reservation.How could anyone possibly do this to an animal is beyond me.


Make a difference   August 9th, 2009 1:36 pm ET

I love Bob he has always used his position on the stage to tell us to spay and neuter. No one else ever spoke up for animals but he did every day to all of America. I will never forget it. Spaying and neutering is the only way to stop the suffering of animals today and tomorrow. When I saw PETA was involved in this story I felt concerned because I know how the people feel about PETA and I don't always agree with them myself. But it was PETA and their video "MEET YOUR MEAT" that pushed me to become a vegetarian and why everyone who eats meat should see the videos especially if you truly love animals. PETA may have a few freaks but sometimes it takes a freak to show the real truth. Animals are the closest thing to heaven and we need to stop promoting or just plain accepting animal cruelty as the way things are. Thanks again Bob you are a hero.


Gerry McDade   August 9th, 2009 1:40 pm ET

A blog like this, by itself, will not solve this issue, but it does give exposure and publicity to the problem. Grandfather Mt.com in N.C. sets a high standard for a bear habitat....I suggest any readers wanting to see the black bear species in a safe natural setting investigate the Grandfather Mt. attraction near Linville, N.C.
Avoid the sites that don't provide a natural large environment. As long as the public visits any sites that appear to not care for the bears as well as they should...those businesses will stay open...
Ideally the best way to see the bears is when you can get a chance encounter from the side of the road or in the woods....but keep your distance....


scott broecker   August 9th, 2009 1:42 pm ET

Thankyou Bob Barker for being a great American and for speaking out on behalf of the voiceless animals! It's great to see that you are still so active in helping the causes that are close to your heart and ours.


Steve   August 9th, 2009 1:48 pm ET

Sounds about on par with what Michael Vick did, and he went to jail. I am part Cherokee, and I deplore their treatment of the bears.


Jules   August 9th, 2009 1:53 pm ET

Sad as the conditions are it does not change the fact if people did not go to see them they would have no reason to keep them there, stop going and they will hopefully turn them loose. China pulls the bears teeth and ties them up, then turn dogs lose, they also throw live lambs to lions etc while the crowds of "families" watch and cheer as the poor lamb is torn apart. We are a very cruel inhuman race and this will be our down fall in the end. NO animal should be penned up, no zoo should remain open, no animal testing, it is all just so sick!!!


Melody Chapin   August 9th, 2009 1:54 pm ET

Someone commented that the bears should be released into the wild. At this point they could not be released to the wild. They have become accustomed to people providng food and have lost some of their fear of humans. If released they would go where humans are for food. Although they might initially appear friendly and accept food from people they still are wild animals and might and would attack in protecting their young and territory.

These bears would need to be placed in an animal refuge in a woodsy fenced in area where the caretakers are knowledgable, humane, and advocate for the bears and are not in it for the money.


francesfromNC   August 9th, 2009 1:54 pm ET

I, too, went to visit one of the roadside bear attractions and would have to agree that these animals look pitiful. They are in cells that are smaller than a jail cell. It smells horrible and you can see how sad and alone these animals feel by the way they look and act.

I am also part Native American, and I believe that these animals are meant to be free. If you think it is not cruel to do this to these animals, how about you let us cage you in their place for awhile and see how it feels. It amazes me that these animals do not turn on all humans the way we have turned our backs on them. Now, granted, I do not necessarily agree or approve of they way PETA tries to bring attention to these issues (such as the McCruelty meal – why would you want to show children graphic pictures of mutilated chickens?), but I do agree that something needs to be done to protect our wildlife from this type of thing.

If you really think it is not harmful to the animals, think about it in this way:

There are many zoos and drive-thru safaris in the US that have gone through extreme measures to create a home-like environment in order to offer us the opportunity to see these animals in a "natural environment." But, even under these conditions, many animals kept in captivity do not live as long as they do in the wild. Captivity changes them in ways that we can not even begin to imagine.

For those of us who remember a time when it was not illegal to ride without a seatbelt, when the law changed to make it an offense to not have your seatbelt on, I remember everyone I knew complaining about how government and insurance companies were taking away our "freedom to choose." Look at how gun advocates are reacting to the chance that the government may take away guns....but yet we seem to think that snatching a bear from its home and everything it knows and lock it up in a cell. It's not like the poor animals can understand what is happening to them. I would think, personally, that this is a very traumatic experience for them. But, then, I believe that we are all here for a reason and that all life forms have the right to live and die they way they were meant to – in their own environments, not ones we deem suitable for them.


Ed   August 9th, 2009 2:01 pm ET

PETA kills over 17,000 dogs and cats a year, and this is the organization you call as a representative? Right. I don't buy anything put out by PETA, and Bob Barker has been a major supporter of PETA for decades, so I can't take his word either. I have not seen these bear parks, but know for a fact that PETA twists the truth about the businesses they attack on a regular basis. It seems to me that if what they said were true, they could have been able to include some pictures or video to prove their point. PETA has been able to manufacture convincing video in the past to falsely accuse people of abuse, why couldn't they do that here? Not enough time to doctor the video perhaps? Sorry, I don't buy the garbage PETA sells. Give me an independent source and I might believe it. I have great sympathy for all animals, but PETA is NOT my voice.


Michael   August 9th, 2009 2:10 pm ET

Forget Bob Barker.....are the bears being treated humanly? If not, let's fix it. If so, end of subject.


Richard Wolfe   August 9th, 2009 2:10 pm ET

Bob: thank you so much! Who could have done this but you? Wonderful! More power to you! More power to the Cherokees too, that they may muster the will to shut this down. Thanks to PETA and PAWS too.


C. Dave   August 9th, 2009 2:13 pm ET

Bob Barker rocks! I had the chance to attend one of his last tapings of The Price Is Right. During a commercial, he asked if the audience had any questions. I raised my hand, and stood up when he called on me. I thanked him for doing so much for animals over the years. He started talking about his work and got very passionate. He's the real deal.

He is an American Hero.


Susan Miller   August 9th, 2009 2:14 pm ET

I have written to every state representative, senator, the governor and the head of tourism for the Cherokee nation to implore them to put an end to this horrible practice. Please write to your elected officials and urge them to sponsor legislation to outlaw the use of animals in such settings and as household "pets."


Chief BigSky   August 9th, 2009 2:14 pm ET

The Cherokee People can't shut this down and make more money with a freakin casino???

Get real...sad


Elijah Schkeiban   August 9th, 2009 2:16 pm ET

Bib Barker is an angel. Adam and Eve were put on earth to tend to the Garden of Eden and its animals. We simply destroy everything and abuse anything we get our hands on. These bears should be free.
PLEASE SET THEM FREE.


Brian Hatfield   August 9th, 2009 2:22 pm ET

Wow, Why can't the DNR shut these down. If they are on Cherokee Land why can't they be shut down. Animals should not be mistreated. Period. Lock the owners up in the same cages after taking the bears out and let them live there for a few years.


DecibelSyndrome   August 9th, 2009 2:23 pm ET

Zoo's should all go by the wayside.........Kids in the USA dont go outside anymore........or read books....or learn anything other than what MTV tells em. Zoo's across the USA are closing doors and some are even considering PUTTING ANIMALS TO SLEEP...because noone cares.....PETA is inneffectual. CLOSE the Zoo's and the sideshows.


Joan Norris   August 9th, 2009 2:32 pm ET

Bob, please start a fundraising campaign to build appropriate habitats for these bears. WE MUST ALL DO SOMETHING. I know the Cherokee are good people; most of them must also be upset about this. Let's FIND COMMON GROUND and help make the bears' lives better.

Does anyone know the address for the Cherokee Tribal Leadership?

LET'S ALL FIGURE OUT WHAT WE CAN DO.


Mark   August 9th, 2009 2:33 pm ET

Complete arrogance on the white mans part. Before you criticize someone, try walking in his shoes/moccasins, and then do it for hundreds of miles.


a more sensible Dave   August 9th, 2009 2:34 pm ET

@Dave

24/7? Are you kidding me? Are you saying the mistreatment has to happen every hour of every day before it's wrong? One instance of abuse is abuse. One instance of mistreatment or poor conditions should be all it takes to shut these places down.

Having lived for several years on this very reservation in the past, and still visiting every year, I can tell you that these bears are mistreated. I can also tell you that there's a portion of the community who abhor this situation. A group of my friends were banned from these places because of statements they made.

I'll grant PETA has become a group seen as extremist by many, and in some cases they definitely go a bit far, but this instance is one in which both Bob Barker and PETA are in the right.


Albert Killackey   August 9th, 2009 2:43 pm ET

You can tell a lot about a person by how he treats his animals. Likewise, you can tell a lot about a community by the behaviors local people tolerate. When cruelty to animals becomes a community standard it reveals contempt for life itself and raises concerns about the true manifest destiny of people. Social change begins with the voice of a single caring person speaking out and others hearing the message. Bob Barker cares and ultimately his message is we should all care about life, all life, and how we live it. Thanks for caring Bob.


NC transplant in Seattle   August 9th, 2009 2:44 pm ET

Boycotting these places seems to be the only way to get the message across. We can't wait for the federal government of the tribal council to see the light. I hope something happens soon.


Matt   August 9th, 2009 2:44 pm ET

I have no idea what is happening to these particular bears but I can tell you that PETA has visited Michigan. I have a friend who had a Santiago Zoo sponsored program in the thub area here in Michigan. The PETA stooges burned it down and killed primates and many other animals that were beautifully cared for up until they were "Freed" by PETA. PETA kills (frees) more animals then the worst abusers. Don't support them! Sorry Bob but if you picture the smoldering animals and smell the death that PETA has in mind for all (Captive) pets and animals exibits maybe you would promote animal lovers instead!


Beverly Phifer   August 9th, 2009 2:45 pm ET

I will never visit a Cherokee Bear Den.....
but what else can I do to protest?
How about a letter writing campaign?


Amy   August 9th, 2009 2:47 pm ET

Just b/c something is inspected it doesn't mean it is right. Common sense will tell you that this is not the way to keep animals. This is unfortunately not the only place this happens and probably will not be the last. I applaud Mr. Barker for raising the issue. As far as PETA goes, not the best choice but really the only choice. How many other major groups are out there that are as known as PETA for helping animals? Not too many. I believe they go overboard sometimes but they also do a great deal of justice for many animals. Shame on anyone (Native Americans or not) who pens up animals in any type of condition such as these.

And sorry, as far as the homeless go- I was homeless for several years and I have to say...if you want help it is out there. Many homeless do not want help and their children pay the price. You cannot just take a child away from someone and help him/her. That is not how it works. There are so many damn programs for low income and homeless it peeves me b/c I work hard but I 'make too much' to get any sort of assistance. You have to be flat out down and out to get help- let's not think about preventative care.

Do not support these tribes and raise awareness! Let these folks know that you will not stand for this type of treatment of animals.


Denise   August 9th, 2009 2:49 pm ET

This is cruel, inhumane and abusive. It should be stopped and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that it is not right. No one should hide behind soverign country rights nor should they have to kiss some tribal leader's butt to get it stopped. It shouldn't matter if you don't like PETA or Bob Barker (and I really don't care too much for either). You know it is wrong and it shouldn't be tolerated.

For those of you complaining about starving or abused children here and there, go ahead, help them. It isn't a choice between helping children and helping animals. If there is injustice happening, it shouldn't be tolerated, whether it is against a human or an animal.

Boycott these places and continue to speak up. If enough people make a stink about something, it usually forces change.


ena   August 9th, 2009 2:54 pm ET

It is like a visitor going into someone's home, a little tact is required. If Bob Barker had not gone in with an attitude, and maybe made suggestions on how to improve conditions, or offered to help raise funds for the changes that need to be made, it might have been received better. You get more flys with honey, than with vinegar. I believe that if a little respect was given, he would have been better off, JMHO.


marilyn   August 9th, 2009 2:55 pm ET

I can't believe IF the conditions are as deplorable as you claim that PETA, and the SPCA don't just go in and confiscate them/shut them down. You're not giving the EXACT location, map directions, owners names, employees names, etc...so how can anyone help this cause. Money doesn't seem to be the answer at this point. If you really care, all of you would be in – shoulders rolled up doing what it takes to free these poor things.
People...what we MUST understand that it's NOT the "normal mind", the "healthy sound mind" that intentionally torments and victimizes, and abuses animals. These same people, would do the same to anyone/thing vulnerable.
Well, you revealed this monster, now it's up to you to expose all of the above, and get them out of there. I think it's more deplorable to find someone/something suffering via abuse from another; talk about it, and merely walk away from it without taking a stand to restore and reconcile from begining to end.
Let's hear more about this. I know I'm not the only one who is literally tired of hearing drama like articles, but no ending, ...It's time all of you are held accountable for good journalism. A story isn't done just because the excitement is gone. There's "always" an ending (good or bad).


Timothy   August 9th, 2009 2:55 pm ET

Thank you for the work you do to help animals, Bob. I think it's great that you got involved and were able to make a difference. Hopefully the bears will be able to be sent to a santuary very soon where they can roam free. The federal government needs to set much higher standards of living for animals and animal protection and treatment otherwise these types of places and circuses and other animal attractions will keep saying their animals are kept in standards within federal regulations. All of these attractions that keep any type of animals in captivity should be shut down.


Gaius   August 9th, 2009 2:56 pm ET

My comment is directed to the posting by Dave on August 4. I think that where there is cruelty there is no special juristiction. You appear to think that because an act of cruelty occurs on an Indian reservation that nobody has a right to say anything. It is fair to ask you in turn if you have any compassion? Is there something about being on a reservation that robs you of the ability to understand cruelty? It is the business of everyone to expose this inhumane treatment and see that it ends.


laurie   August 9th, 2009 2:57 pm ET

Some of these comments are deplorable and disgusting, insinuating that because these "parks" are on tribal land that no one should interfere and allow animals to be abused. There is never an excuse to abuse any living thing, and these parks should be absolutely investigated to document what the living conditions are. They sound horrible. Irresponsibility should never be excused, no matter what your heritage, sorry.


Cindy   August 9th, 2009 2:58 pm ET

I also go to Tennessee every year in Feb. We never get to see the bear in Cades Cove because we always go when it is still to cold for them to be out, but, if I wanted to see them I would go during the time of year that I could see them in the wild. I want to see them in the natural way God made them to be. Not behind walls, being mistreated! If you are in Tn. and go up to Gatlinburg mall they also have bear in a concrete cage It is sad to see them like this! I don't even like going to a zoo to see these animals. It is very sad that someone can't come in and do something about this! Bob Barker, you keep trying to do what you can. I support you in this cause!

Cindy


Voig Nederlander   August 9th, 2009 2:58 pm ET

It's a shame that people revered through history for their harmonious coexistence with nature now dishonor the memory of their noble ancestors in this way.

I believe zoos can be tremendous educational experiences and do not agree that they should all be banned. PETA has an unfortunate knack for using ridiculous antics and over-the-top claims to support their agenda, and most all of us recognize that these Little Roadside Horrors fall well short of the standards for even the smallest community zoos.

There is a middle way, for people who love animals, but also understand there are humane ways to benefit from them, whether by food or education. That our choice appears limited either to the doe-eyed, misguided PETA schlubs, or the kind of evil troll that stacks chickens on top of each other and pumps them full of hormones is sad, to say the least.

I trust that the Cherokee Nation will choose to do the right thing, and either close these attractions or see to it that the animals are better provided for. Unfortunately, it sounds as though many are permanently scarred by this experience.


Vince Leno   August 9th, 2009 3:02 pm ET

More should be done for the animals that are treated this way. There should be strict laws and they should be enforced. In Germany it just is not tolerated. It breaks my heart to hear of animals and small children being mistreated for someones pleasure, someones greed. I really hope that these bears can be relocated in reintergrated into the wild or possibly taken to a zoo.


Denis Alexander   August 9th, 2009 3:07 pm ET

I wonder why Larry King invites someone that openly supports the Animal Liberation Front, a domestic terrorist organization, to comment on his blog. Larry - ask Mr. Barker to comment on the violence from the animal rights movement please...


marilyn   August 9th, 2009 3:08 pm ET

just persued the emails. come on guys and gals. What's with comparing Darfur to America permitting such abuse on our turf. Listen, we all have a calling, if you will. Some to stand up for the protection of the elderly. The abuse in their homes and nursing homes is intolerable. The abuse to animals. Vicks..hear me....believe it or not you have a calling to help animals/vulnerables; yes even bears. Some have a calling to do surreal journalism; sacrificing their lives that the world may know truth. The bottom line, I believe when anything is brought to our attn., we will get that nudging in the tummy, bringing to our attention the calling in our life. Sometimes these callings are for a season, don't question it, just do it.
Some of us can only encourage. Some can fight for the freedom of animals and others merely by using the gift "words"..We have the world open to us people...lets use it constructively, consistently, and in excellence......keep the martyrism dead; humility dead, and run the path that' designed especially for you.
There's many of us out here, who can save the abused; i.e. these bears. Become "creative" in a good sense.


Deb   August 9th, 2009 3:09 pm ET

After reading these comments for about 1/2 hour, I got cross-eyed and decided to just comment.

I've never been a big Bob Barker fan, except for his stance on spaying and neutering animals, and PETA is. for the most part, a joke. I live in NC, but have not had the opportunity to go to Cherokee or see the bears. If, as is mentioned, they live in small "pits". that is deplorable and should definitely be remedied!!

Obviously these creatures have always been captive and should remain so, but they need trees, grass areas to run, dirt to dig etc... as does just about any large animal. It sounds as though if that were done, everyone (including the bears) would be happy. If they "do" live in small cement enclosures, than that should be changed IMMEDIATELY!!

I am 1/16th Cherokee and believe in the right of sovereignty, but if I travel up the Cherokee and see that what Mr. Barker says is true, I'll be the first one to protest (sign in hand) the conditions and urge Principal Chief Hicks get involved in moving the bears to a sanctuary where they can live out their lives in peace and comfort!!


Deb   August 9th, 2009 3:12 pm ET

Sorry for the typos... I need to re-read before I hit the submit button. lol


Dreadmoniker   August 9th, 2009 3:15 pm ET

While I do care for the general welfare of animals–especially bears (I have personal reasons for this), when I read that PETA was involved, I was forced to take the whole article with a large grain of salt.
PETA in my opinion has done more to turn people off to animal rights as much, if not more than nutty groups like the ALF. There's little difference between them and domestic fundamentalist terrorist groups (most terrorist groups don't have celebrities in their cause).


les   August 9th, 2009 3:18 pm ET

Roadside "zoo" attractions have been horrific always in that area. Not as much a Cherokee thing as a regressive southern mentality that drives this abuse.


Jason   August 9th, 2009 3:29 pm ET

Animals have no rights and should have no rights. Rights can only be possessed by conceptual creatures (on this planet only humans fit the category) capable of grasping the nature of those rights which they possess.


Susan   August 9th, 2009 3:33 pm ET

Dear Sam:
I don't have difficulty relating to humans. I have difficulty relating to you.

You assumptions about what I believe is too bizarre for words.
You do not have the right to torture, abuse or mistreat anything or anyone just because you live on a territory that you consider your domain.

You're right, I am relatively well-fed, safe and healthy. But only because I live where there are laws in place that try to effect a safe environment for everyone. Those laws should be practiced everywhere!


lyne   August 9th, 2009 3:38 pm ET

there werevideos of cherokee bear zoo on youtube


Muscles Not Bones   August 9th, 2009 3:39 pm ET

Animal abuse deniers are right there with the lowest of the low. Really Mobius and others? Animal abuse is preferable to PETA?

Hear that? It's the sound of my faith in humanity going down the drain.

You go Bob! You go PETA. This is revolting.


Joel   August 9th, 2009 3:52 pm ET

I didn't read all of the posts (over 240), but I live in a state with a large Cherokee population (I am not even part-Indian, but my wife is 1/2 Blackfoot). I think the Cherokees in my state would be appalled by this. One of the tenets of Indian life is respect for all life, and this faction of Cherokee in North Carolina seems to have forgotten one of their most cherished traditions. I am frankly surprised that the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) hasn't stepped in to stop this, but the BIA in the last 50 years has been afraid to sneeze near a reservation for fear that "they are interfering with our sovereign nation". I'm not a PETA fan by any imagination, but this is one they need to jump on - forget about some celeb wearing fur, and go after the true abuse of animals. Bears should/can be considered national treasures because they primarily reside in North America (at least browns and grizzlies do). Everyone posting here should send an e-mail to the BIA asking them to investigate - I know I will.


S Callahan   August 9th, 2009 3:52 pm ET

Bless you Bob Barker....WE (humans , animals, all creatures) are God's loved ones..and each are born with the given right of dignity and love.....Beautiful article ..enlightment...


Braden   August 9th, 2009 3:53 pm ET

Cheers Bob for doing good in this awful world. I dont care what kind of animal it is it shouldnt be caged like that...these bears did nothing wrong and they get treated like child molestors and rapists...locked up in a cage 24/7...the humans that do this should be locked up and treated exactly the same.


Leigh   August 9th, 2009 3:58 pm ET

Animals are gifts for us to protect and enjoy. It should sadden us all to think of living creatures being treated in this manner. What we sow, so shall we reap! As Ghandi said, "The morality of a nation shall be judged by the way its animals are treated."


helms   August 9th, 2009 4:01 pm ET

Hmm , I was always tought that the native people respected nature more most cultures , but I guess that was a lie or maybe these cherokees should not be concidered Indians sice they have given up there values.


drewtyler   August 9th, 2009 4:04 pm ET

****If there is a comment that is worth reading on this forum, it is the one posted by LC. I'll copy it so everyone can read it again. I was going to comment but read this post and decided it couldn't have been said any better than this.****

Many of you will not like what I have to say. I’m really tired of people falling back on the hardships of their ancestors to justify their actions in today’s world. All of our ancestors had struggles in one form or another, but they went on with their lives and did the best they could. How anyone, human or animal, is treated is NOT an “ancestoral” issue, it is a “people” issue. Stop using your ancestors’ issues as a crutch for your own behavior today. Get over it! Whether or not you like Bob Barker, PETA, or any other organization that “interferes” in your lives, you need to evaluate the facts on your own and determine if things DO need to be changed. If any of these bears are being treated as is being reported, then something needs to be done as soon as possible, regardless of where they are located. Find the NC bears a safe sanctuary on your own, without PETA’s input, and you won’t have to worry about what happens to them if they are freed. Do what is right for the animals because you know they need proper care, not because some “outsider” tells you to do it. Grow up and at least pretend to be adults with some common sense. Your ancestors would be very proud of you. They cherished their animals; did that “trickle down” to your conscience? It certainly doesn’t appear so, from the comments you’ve posted. I think it’s just easier for you to let “someone else” deal with it. I remember the Indian with the tear running down his face. Do you?


Jill   August 9th, 2009 4:08 pm ET

No animals deserve to be kept in captivity, no matter how good the conditions are. There's no such thing as a humane jail. All imprisonment of animals is abuse. And all so someone can make a buck because people decide that seeing an animal locked in a cage is somehow educational or interesting. It's sick behavior, both caging a creature, and paying to see one locked up.


charlene anne cleniuk   August 9th, 2009 4:09 pm ET

You have my sincere support Bob. My husband and I live in Canada and it doesn't matter where you live, we can't stand animal cruelty. I'd like to see the person who treats the animal punished by trading places with the bear. ( Feed the Human )


Alliy   August 9th, 2009 4:10 pm ET

First, if you aren't vegan, you are doing more harm to animals than these Cherokee are. Factory bred animals are kept in conditions way worse than these bears. At least they are raised to be killed and only have to undergo the unethical treatment for a short period. Going vegan just one day a week can make a difference for animal welfare, the environment, and your health.

Second, the Cherokee people would not be in this situation if it wasn't for what Americans did to them. It's no excuse to torture animals and they should be ashamed, but if their beautiful culture was allowed to prosper, America would not have “zoos,” let alone animal factories.

One of the strangest arguments is the assumption that people who care about animals don't care about people. As someone who had many of my ancestors killed in the Holocaust, I can only hope that all members of the human species practice tolerance and kindness not only to each other, but to all living things. Humans should take care of other humans out of respect, but animals and the environment have no voice, so we must take extra care to ensure their safety. If humans destroy our own species out of selfishness and greed, we should not take down the down the bears and trees with us.

And for whoever left some comment about how people who use improper grammar obviously can’t make legitimate arguments, I’d like to see you address this subject in Cherokee and see how perfect your grammar is….

Peace to everyone, and may all suffering someday end.


Merv   August 9th, 2009 4:33 pm ET

Yes this is on the reservation but this is a people issue not a Cherokee issue. Humans can be so god awful cruel to animals and each other.
Thank you Bob Barker for bringing it to the forefront. Shame, shame , shame on the people that are in a position to do something about this and don't. How incredibly sad that so many people are so numb to this.
I'm not surprised though. Money and greed will take to us to depths unthinkable. I live ten miles from Cherokee. There are many kind and thoughtful people there. Lets not lump them in with the people who are so thoughtlessly cruel and insensitive.
I hope this stays in the spotlight. It would be nice to have names and faces put on these specific owners of these places.


Timothy Melnyk   August 9th, 2009 4:35 pm ET

They should put the owners of these "zoos" in the cages WITH the bears. I think they would get what they have coming to them. People that harm animals are disgusting and cowardly.
There is a similar problem in New York City, where I live. The carriage horses are treated horribly. I recommend you all watch the documentary "Blinders" and join the cause in banning carriage horses in the City. You can see this movie on sling.com


Don   August 9th, 2009 4:38 pm ET

First of all,Rep. Bill Young of Florida must be an idiot. Cherokee, NC is a tourist trap full of casinos and fake native american wares to purchase. If you want to educate your family on "indian" life styles, go to Arizona, the Navajo Reservation; or Oklahoma where the Cherokee's now live. That experience would make you cry!


Liz   August 9th, 2009 4:39 pm ET

To Dave: it sounds like you run one of these zoos yourself. Even 1 hour kept this way is shameful...These glorious animals deserve better. I hope the community comes together to rectify this. Please send us contact information if they are accepting donations.


Buttons   August 9th, 2009 4:44 pm ET

I think there should be a law to stop these people from keeping those bears.
I wanted to see the one in Piegion Forge as like most people I really thought the bears would be in a setting with outside area's but no, they were in concrete cubes and were being feed what look like throw away garbage from near buy food places.
I feel so sad for any animal that is taken out of it's home and then put on display.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CONGRESSMAN AND FIGHT FOR A LAW TO STOP THIS PRACTICE.


Blessed Geek   August 9th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

Hang down your head Cherokees
Hang down your head and cry

Hang down your belly mother earth
Hang down your belly and sigh

Why are the voice of your children not heard
Perhaps, you are all but a lie

Otherwise, would you not have placed a curse
on these bear abusers and let their ancestry run dry


Dale   August 9th, 2009 4:50 pm ET

Thank you Bob Barker, PETA, Larry King and any other person that finds conditions like this deplorable. I can honestly say I have seen similar places and when an animal is put on public display they do not get proper care. There is a place in West Virginia calle French Creek Game Farm and I have visited it since I was little. My children ask to go there when we go visit family. I can honestly say I have never seen in my 40 years of going there seen deplorable conditions as you speak of. Sometimes when traveling I go past places and just the along the road scenes I will not visit. Animals have a place on this earth as do humans. We need to learn to coexist. We need to learn that what we do will come back on us someday. Please, find a place in your hearts to support your local shelters, zoos or santuaryies. If only by an annual visit or sending a dollar. The animals can not go out and get jobs to support themselves. The animals can not go to the vet for medical care with out us. They can not get spayed or nuetered unless we take them. Animals domestic and wild are dependent upon humans. As most of us depend upon an animal to die in order to have supper. If you do not like PETA find another group to help. Local humane society, dog pounds or shelter. There are lots of options. So to be as polite as possible. Get up and do something. Stop being reactive start being proactive.


littlemtree   August 9th, 2009 4:57 pm ET

I'm a Native American woman and was raised to respect every living thing and animals are sacred to me and to (most) Native Americans so this is especially saddening. I think their forefathers would cry and be ashamed at the mistreatment of these bears. I don't care if they are chained and caged for 10 minutes or hours, it's the same thing. We all have the right to be free so hopefully people will stop visiting the roadside zoos.

~When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us~ Arapaho


Vorlon   August 9th, 2009 4:57 pm ET

The culture of the majority of descendants of Pre-Columbian North Americans has devolved into the same state as that of everyone else who dwells here. They have lost their special relationship with the land and creatures therein. That makes it no surprise that some would see fit to house wild creatures in deplorable conditions. They, like all others who deprive animals of their ability to fulfill the measure of their creation will answer for it.

PETA, on the other hand, condones the deceptive actions of its members in acquiring animals on the pretext of finding them suitable homes, then euthanizing them and tossing the carcasses into dumpsters, in the name of "ethics". This group is more interested in headlines and money than the ethical treatment of animals.

Mankind is on a downward slide toward its own destruction. Its continued abuses of the Earth, its resources, its animals and itself in its lust for profit will seal its doom.


Allen   August 9th, 2009 4:59 pm ET

I would gladly attend the hanging of these cruel people. There is no species on earth as dangerous as humans and their love of money.


Joe R.   August 9th, 2009 5:02 pm ET

Human Rights BEFORE Animal Rights. I believe in being good stewards over everything in the earth, but I cannot support those who are so vocal about animal rights when abortion is still legal and when people are being murdered or executed around the world just for their religious or political views. When the Animal Rights Activists put as much energy to saving human lives, then perhaps they'll get more of my support.


A. McNaught   August 9th, 2009 5:02 pm ET

Things will only change when you do something about them. In typical American fashion, here everyone sits bickering about something they will do nothing about. It makes no difference how "free" this country is. Until the collective WE get off of our lazy duffs and, for once, do something we said we were going to do, nothing will change.


Tom   August 9th, 2009 5:08 pm ET

The bears at zoos living in horrible conditions are not the only animals. Most animals in all zoos world wide live in prison. No animal was created to be locked up like they are in zoos. The only exception is endangered animals where we have no choice, and hope these animals breed in captivity. Overall I think all zoos are rediculous and no cage or fence is big enough for any animal. If you want to see a Elephant, save a few grand and go to Africa, I've been there and the trip is worth it.


George   August 9th, 2009 5:11 pm ET

There is nothing more beautiful than looking out your kitchen window and seeing Black Bears in the treeline. Here in Northern WI. they roam free and hunting is well regulated. Shame on the Tribes that insult their Ancesters by mistreating these wonderful creatures of God.


Paul Phoenix   August 9th, 2009 5:13 pm ET

Way to go Bob, animal abusers are among the scum of the earth.

After reading responses here I wonder why the conservative voices on here suggest getting the government involved, this should be legislated, etc, yet at sime time I have no doubt condemn govt involvement and regulation in nearly all other aspects of life. Which is it?
To be sure laws ned to be changed when it comes to ownership of animals and attractions such as these should be eliminated across the country. Its an emabarrassment as an American to have these, it reflects shallow values to let them persist.
It also serves to undermine the FIrst Nations credibility when it comes to thier spoken spirituality and reverence of earth, something that true believers should be livid about.


Colleen   August 9th, 2009 5:26 pm ET

I think the bears should be provided with better conditions – there is no argument there. Dear Bob, PETA will hurt your cause. They are seen as extremists and turn people off. I am a deep and true lover of animals but I cannot tolerate PETA.


Paul Phoenix   August 9th, 2009 5:32 pm ET

Those who abuse, and those who support abusers are morally suspect. To trust them is a risky gamble. I wouldnt trust them with a penny.


Paul Alexander   August 9th, 2009 5:35 pm ET

Did I just land from a trip in a time machine?

Are these people aware that this is the 21st century?

Unless you are helping conserve a species, you have no reason or right to have animals in captivity. Period.

What gives human beings the right to assume that they occupy the top rank in Nature? Because they can destroy things?


jan   August 9th, 2009 5:38 pm ET

How about we put them in cages to beg for food, but first not feed them for at least 10 days and then they will know what the bears put up with


MP   August 9th, 2009 5:49 pm ET

Come on tribal members, speak up for your fellow land creatures. I am not a PETA member, and i believe more would be done if they (PETA) were not involved, but mistreatment of a living creature is wrong. If you must display the bears, at least build a proper inclosure. Even death roll inmates do not have to stare at the same four wall 24/7. Use your casino funds, use some funds somewhere, if you have no funds then for the mercy of the bears, put them down.


Mike   August 9th, 2009 5:50 pm ET

As an AZA zookeeper, I have many times see these "roadside zoos," in reservation land, these so called zoos are governed by USDA, which has very loose standards compared to AZA's standards. In the college animal mascot world, the animals are getting million dollar exhibits. Such as the LSU’s 2.9 million tiger enclosure/education center and Southern University’s 1.5 million dollar Jaguar exhibit, University of North Alabama’s 1.3 million dollar African lion facility, Baylor University’s 1 million dollar bear exhibit. I think the Cherokee nation can send some money on their bears.

I make it a point to tell me interns to never to work in a "roadside zoo." PETA is annoying when they protest in front of aquariums and want fish to be called "sea kittens," but in situations like the bears that is where they make their mark. Thank you Bob Barker and I hope people do not support roadside zoos.


Ray   August 9th, 2009 5:55 pm ET

We have homeless veterans living in the street
We have families living in cars
PETA has misguided priorities.
HELP PEOPLE FIRST
Sorry for the bears, but we can't even take care of are own kind.


Chief   August 9th, 2009 5:56 pm ET

I have had the honor of discussing various topics with members of the Eastern Band of Cherokees who live on the Qualla Boundary. This is not a typical reservation as the Cherokees have repurchased the land that was taken away from them. The people in Cherokee are happy to explain what they are doing to maintain the old ways while also joining the modern ways. I believe that the Cherokee people would be very happy to discuss ways to improve the community, including economics and habitats for animals kept in zoos. Please leave your "uppity" attitudes at your home. Come with a good heart and together you may help everyone.


Tom Avrutis   August 9th, 2009 5:56 pm ET

Bob, I agree 100%. I have seen these Bear zoo's with my kids and so sad I ever paid to see bears kept in confined quarters .My family will never pay to see bears forced to beg for food like that and I hope your excellent article will make others aware of that nasty blemish on cherokee.
Lets face it Cherokee is a junky tourist trap with junk trinkets and mostly garbage items for sale. But it is the gateway to such a beautiful park and if not for the Smokeys I can't imagine a reason to visit Cherokee, but with the bear abuse it makes it even worse. Tom


Alice   August 9th, 2009 5:58 pm ET

Hey CNN – can we have an iReport feature on this?


William   August 9th, 2009 6:15 pm ET

Hey Bob: right idea, wrong support group. Aligning your cause with the PETA wackos might cause more resentment and ill will than accomplish good. With your connections, you could certainly have found someone else to help you with your (lack of) computer skills.

The ASPCA would have been a much better choice for support on this issue. Allied with your celebrity, this could have already been a done deal.


Beth   August 9th, 2009 6:29 pm ET

Thank for this article speaking out to help the bears. The situation is real and sad. I grew up in Asheville, NC and can remember when I was six and younger my parents started taking me to Cherokee to protest about the conditions that these bears are kept in. It is deplorable. I no longer live in the area, but if I did I would work hard to become more involved in this issue. The cultural history of the Cherokee Indians, as well as the way they have been treated throughout history is complex and saddening issue that definitely mediates this issue. However, this does not make the treatment of these bears okay. These are wild animals...or at least they should be. If you do not believe this article, I would incourage you find out more...I would say to go see for yourself, but then you are inadvertantly supporting this cruelty by paying to see the bears. I wish more people were actively involved and interested in their plight.

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Ghandi


Phyllis   August 9th, 2009 6:33 pm ET

Hey Everyone!!! If you want to help the bears, then don't contribute to their unfortunate treatment. Boycott the Smokey Mountain venues that allow this. I for one was planning to show the Smokey Mountains to my husband who is from Alaska. I will not be doing that now, until I'm sure this situation has been rectified. I am also forwarding this to all in my network and encouraging them to do the same. When these greedy human animals can't make a living anymore, then maybe this sort of cruelty will cease. Don't enable them.


Dave   August 9th, 2009 6:34 pm ET

Dave you are probably unaware of animal laws etc. I work with pug rescue and I can tell you people treat animals in horrible ways. Why I do not know. But I can tell you if PETA says it is deplorable than it is. Federal laws are so wishy-washy that it is a joke. Standards are so low they might as wel not have any. Cherokees talk about the land and animals but they aren't walking the walk when it comes to taking care of them. Their ansisters would be ashamed of them.


Sue in Baltimore   August 9th, 2009 6:34 pm ET

I admire Mr. Barker's commitment to animal welfare. The merits of PETA as an organization really have nothing to do with this issue, which is that some surely-economically-disadvantaged people are mistreating bears for commercial purposes. I hope all of us object to animals' being treated this way whenever we can. I also hope the sovereign Cherokee Nation does come to see a better path, more in line with their own spiritual values, and finds a way to improve the situation. I certainly won't spend any money at one of these "bear pits" in the meantime.

Of course, when a whole group of people is treated as horribly and unjustly, for so long, as Native Americans have been, none of us should be surprised that some of them are so lost and without other good options that they resort to this.


Heidi   August 9th, 2009 6:36 pm ET

Good for Bob Barker for bringing this to the public eye. Good for him. BUT bringing PETA into it will not save the bears. It WILL condemn the bears to death. PETA's stance is better dead, than captive apparently. That is why their Euthanasia rates are so high. They care nothing for the life after the rescue. They just want credit for the rescue. Feeding bears is illegal in my state for good reason. People are not allowed to keep bears as pets and hounds are not allowed for most instances of bear hunting. (I believe they are allowed for grizzlies. ) Hounds bred to hunt bears are no slouches. They don't play with their food. The hunters that shoot them usually know what they are doing. The dogs are amazing animals that could be put to better use. The people that hunt bears do it for different reasons. However, I think that most people would agree that any sanctuary has to deal with numbers problems if they can't spay or neuter an animal that they intend to keep wild. If it's wild and it breeds, eventually there will be too many in one place. Starvation because there is not enough food in the wild is just as bad as starvation in captivity, It may be worse in fact, because it takes longer in the wild bears cases.


Riverdivine   August 9th, 2009 6:37 pm ET

Please support PETA, and rid the world of not only these roadside freak shows, but the darker world of animal abuse and neglect. Bears are a powerful and sacred animal, meant to live free.
The "Native Americans" are likely well aware of this, but choose to ignore it, for their own self-serving greed. They choose abuse and torture, over honoring the bear.
They have their own karma to deal with...but, in the meantime, please take action, and help free these bears who are suffering untold amounts.
There are many other roadside freak shows just like this. We need to make animal abuse ILLEGAL, and create significant and meaningful punitive consequences for these abusers, once and for all.
If the abusers feel that there are no consequences, the behavior will continue. We can do better than this. All living beings deserve our honor and respect, and WE will not rest until we are all free.


Nikki   August 9th, 2009 6:40 pm ET

"Jon War August 4th, 2009 2:03 pm ET
I appreciate people who are looking after animals but sometimes Peta is not really the best spokesperson for animals. I live in Edmonton Canada and one of our Elephants is old living here for 3o+ years and Bob and his crew were pressuring our Zoo to move him but the move would most likely kill him and is this in the best interest of the animal ????"

I agree with this completely, and with all of those who have said that PETA gave them a sense of disbelief about this story.

If there are in fact bears that are in harm's way here, I hope that by the popularity of this article, the bear park is investigated by legitimate officers and remove them for their health and safety's sake.


Valerie   August 9th, 2009 6:42 pm ET

As someone of *Cherokee lineage* and a Republican Conservative, I am appalled. Animals should not be used in this way. The Native American knows this. We kill to eat and for clothing - for needs. We do not torture or use animals for this. The Cherokee has lost his Way. If we cannot make in on the reservation doing ethically and rightly, we must find another way. My great, great grandfather in Louisiana left the reservation, saying this. To live fatly off of gambling and abuse of animals is to live wrongly. This is not the way of a proud Cherokee. I urge the Chief in the area to make amends and turn away from this wrong.


Lee   August 9th, 2009 6:48 pm ET

How totally and utterly sad that so many people cannot understand that mistreating animals is immoral. It's not a matter of whether there are worse or more serious problems or whether tribes should be allowed to govern themselves–the issue is quite simply one of compassion and humanity. To abuse nature and animals is wrong even if it is not illegal. Some of the ignorance and insensitivity expressed in some of these comments is appalling.


Dale K   August 9th, 2009 6:48 pm ET

"Sometimes euthanizing an animal is the most ETHICAL (pEta) option."
It always amazes me that various animal protection organizations can pat themselves on the back and claim that they are doing the animals a favor by killing or mutilating them.
Sometimes, the "ethical" treatment they provide is indistinguishable from the "inhumane" treatment the animal(s) suffered in the first place.

D.K


Marlene   August 9th, 2009 6:49 pm ET

Thank you Bob Barker for doing so much good for the animals. I hope that your voice with be heard. Animals need to be treated with care and respect. Gandhi said "A nation can be judged by the way they treat their animals". Let us hope that the Cherokee Nation hears your message.


Deb   August 9th, 2009 6:53 pm ET

To palebluelight:

I live in the Cherokee area (not a tribal member) and it is true that the tribe does bring in a lot of money from the casino. The profits from the casino are distributed to the enrolled tribal members, each of them receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of $8000 per year. Even so, a large number of the tribal members (but by no means all) live with something of a welfare mentality. The tribe and the federal government bear the burden of free medical care, subsidized housing, etc. The majority of businesses in Cherokee are leased by the owners to "outsiders". Even so, the Cherokee are a proud people. The majority probably agree that the bears are kept in poor conditions, but they don't like their dirty laundry aired to the outside world.

As for organizations like PETA and ASPCA, I personally contacted these groups regarding animals being kept in appalling conditions in Swain County. I was told to contact local humane societies or law enforcement. There are no humane societies that employee cruelty investigators and local law enforcement doesn't even enforce rabies vaccination requirements.

This is a very poor area of the state to live in. Virtually the only industry is the tourist industry. Yes, these businesses have been allowed to keep these animals in these conditions for decades, but the tourists continue to subsidize this treatment daily. The main draw to the area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is beautiful, but it is also part of the problem in the area. The Federal Government has taken 85% of Swain County for the park and national forests; therefore, the population is to small to attract any kind of industry that would allow residents to earn enough to support anything resembling a middle class lifestyle in other areas of the state.

Yes, bears and other animals should not be kept in inhumane conditions. But boycotting all "indian" enterprises is not the way to do it. Boycott the zoos and animal parks that perpetuate these practices and they will very quickly go out of business. Create and/or enforce laws prohibiting exhibits such as these. That is the humane (and human) way to accomplish the final goal.


michael bloodhound   August 9th, 2009 7:10 pm ET

Dear Bob Barker – Thank you for being a "bear" in bringing this to national and worldwide attention.

To Dave who wrote: " Go away Bob! The reservation keeps them up to federal standards" I say never mind federal standards which you appear to claim don't apply. There are community standards and reasonable standards and healthy and unhealthy standards and according to what visitors have revealed, Mr. Barker is seen as more credible than you, especially your seeming to want to hide behind a shield of Native American sovereignty despite general consensus of animal disrespect. Will you live in the concrete walls where they are kept for one week, you have to beg for food too. Is that okay with you Dave?

As for the comment from D R confirming deplorable conditions of captivity and conveyin there is a sign out front that says if you are a member of PETA that you are not allowed in, that's shows their intent is to ignore the public's wanting the situation changed.

I will ask here, that those concerned go beyond Bob Barker's request to stay away from Cherokee and voice their support for allowing the bears to retire to a sanctuary, that concerned people boycott ALL support of Cherokee until such time they advance a plan to place the bears in a natural habitat.

BH


Jana   August 9th, 2009 7:11 pm ET

NO animal, especially in the United States, should EVER be mistreated, abused, etc. It is sickening and there is NO excuse for it at all.

I hope these bears, if they truly are neglected, will be moved to a safer, much better environment to live out their lives as they should be allowed. The best thing for the bears is to be released to their natural surroundings, free to roam and fend for themselves.


Jana   August 9th, 2009 7:17 pm ET

I have to add, if anyone or any organization mistreats animals, they should immediately be shut down, never to be in business again.

Animals are treasures and one of the treasures of this country are bears. They need and should receive continual care and respect, and, protection from people who abuse them.

This is just sickening.


Mike   August 9th, 2009 7:21 pm ET

Oh for the love of god
PETA put down a ton of dogs and cats, yes. These were dogs that it was TRYING, through funding, to find homes for. Now, what should it do with all these dogs that it previously had SAVED from euthanasia by animal control centers? Should it have FED all of them? By selling what stock in Microsoft?!?!?

Bob Barker is making a small effort to make a difference, which automatically makes him better than 95% of the world and us posters. I would be happy if these bears just had some grass and trees, since they are spending their whole lives in one place being on stage 24/7.


frs   August 9th, 2009 7:22 pm ET

In response to Dave who claimes that " this is a reservation that the federal government should have no authority over".

I'm compelled to point out that decency is not subject to such boundaries.

Why is it that the human race displays such deplorable actions when interacting with animals and species who should just be left alone in the wild in the first place?

Geeesh!


jennifer nc   August 9th, 2009 7:24 pm ET

i was in cherokee in april of this year on my honeymoon i went to see the bears its not a bad place the bears have a pool and a place to play bob did you see the alligater in the case as well just cause hes not furry and cute does that mean we dont have to call peta on him to get a life the bears are fine


2manyhorses   August 9th, 2009 7:28 pm ET

Mr. Barker has been a proponent of the humane treatment of animals "forever" and has a very well documented track record of making a difference in situations that needed to be exposed.
This one is no exception and I am glad he used his celebrity to bring it to the attention of the media.
As far as the PETA involvement, I am typically not a fan. HOWEVER, this world is not simply black and white; there are many grey zones that the least informed (and often most vocal) are unaware of. PETA has done some good by making us aware of the methods used in "harvesting" furs, the treatment of many veal calves, and the cruelties involved in the poultry industry...to name just a few of their causes.
I support Mr. Barker, PETA, and whomever is involved in passing legislation to make "sideshows" of wild animals illegal.


shirley   August 9th, 2009 7:31 pm ET

Bob, Please get in touch with the Humane Society of the United States if you want something done.
Peta is not the answer.


scott w   August 9th, 2009 7:34 pm ET

the owners should all be arrested and fined the money should go tohelping the bears. the owners should then be deported or killed on the spot.


Rob   August 9th, 2009 7:53 pm ET

If this is the way they keep their animals, and they continue on this course, I'm not sorry we took their continent from them.


MP82   August 9th, 2009 7:54 pm ET

Take away Federal jurisdiction and look what happens.


kevin   August 9th, 2009 7:55 pm ET

boy, you people really get off track. free the bears. period. kind of funny this is happening by people who are so in tune with and not cruel or wasteful of mother earthand what she has to offer.


Ellen   August 9th, 2009 7:55 pm ET

Bless you, Mr. Barker :)


JohnQ   August 9th, 2009 7:56 pm ET

The Cherokee tribes had better get their act together. The worst thing they could have right now is the idea that they are exploitive and harmful for the environment. It goes without saying that this is somewhat against the image they typically try to cultivate. I am fine with the Native Americans making a buck off of the "White Man" - casinos do us no favors, but a treaty is a treaty. But exploiting intelligence animals to do so? That's pretty deplorable.


Sabindi   August 9th, 2009 7:57 pm ET

I am of Native American descent and have been a resident of the Flathead reservation in Western Montana
since 1989. The Flathead reservation has a significant population of both Grizzly and Black bears. The bear
population on the Flathead Reserve are considered a great part of the Native Flathead culture and are not only
left free to roam as they choose, but are very well protected from encroachment by man in the territory they
normally enjoy. When bear activity is detected by tribal game biologist to be grater than normal in certain areas
on the reserve they will restrict human recreational activity to allow the bears to enjoy the bear habitat without
having to share with man ,Tribal member or non tribal. This limits the confrontation between man and bear during
breeding season and the heavy foraging period before hibernation.

There are no hunting seasons and the bears are occasionally trapped by tribal wardens when they become a
threat or a nuisance and taken back to where they belong. I can not imajine a roadside Zoo on this Indian reserve
to capitalize from tourist. On the Flathead Reserve the bears rule. The Cherokees must have a totally different
view of how wild animals are supposed to live and could take some lessons from the Flathead Salish in My opinion.
Way to Go BOB! Keep up the good work. Thanks for bringing this up.


Erik   August 9th, 2009 7:59 pm ET

The Cherokees dont get a free pass because they are native American. Animal cruelty is animal cruelty. It is disgusting to hear of the deplorable treatment of bears. Keep up the good work Bob.


Canadian   August 9th, 2009 8:04 pm ET

A measure of a society's success is generally calculated by 3 factors:

1. Treatment of prisoners
2. Treatment of animals
3. Health care

It is obvious that the USA is in dire straits.


Maurice in Mississippi   August 9th, 2009 8:17 pm ET

It would be better to shoot 'em, and eat 'em....than to simply just hold them in captivity and mistreat them, all to attract interest to a Gift Shop.

A well run Zoo is a educational delight. A poorly run example is a horror story for helpless animals.

I eat meat. I hate the idea of Milk-fed Veal.

I fish, But use the smallest hooks and return every fish possible.

I'd shoot a marauding animal....but only if it was impossible to catch and relocate, or threatened life and/or property.

I own Horses, Dogs, Cats...and treat them as family members...with all due respect and love.

We have dominion over animals because we are supposed to look AFTER them for our needs, and their needs.

In short, Human nature must be combated with grace, be it Divine or personally imposed.

To that effect...where is the grace in some of the all too human response to this issue? Much of it is lost in Human Nature...to look askance at anything beneath one's own station.


troy   August 9th, 2009 8:18 pm ET

I have been to this exact "bear zoo" in Cherokee. It's right on the river in the Saunooke tourist area. We stay at a great inn called the Hemlock Inn near Cherokee and always too around in Cherokee a day or two. I said at the time-which has been several years ago now, that those bears are exhibiting classic neurotic behaviors associated with confinement and mistreatment. My wife and our two young sons went and we were appalled. We left that place depressed.


CLIFF   August 9th, 2009 8:25 pm ET

Too bad we can't get as excited about the hungry children in every city across America as we can about some stupid animal!


Lynn   August 9th, 2009 8:32 pm ET

Dear Marilyn: Cherokee is a very small town in Western NC. The phone book isn't that big. If anyone wants to find the names of these bear prisons it isn't very hard. I am sure a very short online search will produce the results. Also, the tribe complains that no one helped them during the Trail of Tears even other tribes such as the Lumbee Tribe down east. I don't recall anyone from the EBCI trying to make an effort to help the slaves and abolish slavery. Down east at the time they had both slavery and natives. Why didn't the tribe bring escaped slaves to the reservation and help them? Especially when this area did not have many slaves at all. Many here were against the practice. The slaves were rounded up and treated just as bad as the local natives. The EBCI did not try to help the Jews during the Holocost either. They were removed from their land as well and put to death. Please don't blame the future for the sins of the past. We can not pick into which we are born. Until you let the past go the future can never be seen.


Lee   August 9th, 2009 8:38 pm ET

Once Cherokee were proud and honorable people! They have reduced themselves to a pathetic state and now abuse their sacred totems.

Very sad.

At least Michael Vick was sent to prison for his crimes.


Matt   August 9th, 2009 8:40 pm ET

I think the bears keepers should be the ones in the cages and given the treatment they have given the bears. I wish I could get my hands on them.


Sheila   August 9th, 2009 8:46 pm ET

It is a sad truth that we all must kill to live. But it is also a part of the beautiful cycle of life on this planet. We all will become a part of some other living thing eventually. We are killed to feed, or our bodies will somehow feed and nourish.

As humans, we haven't fit well into this scheme for thousands of years. We don't play by any of the natural rules. We tell the earth what it will do for us: We farm, we ranch, we alter ecosystems, we alter climate and we even deprive the earth of man's bodies by cremation or burials in boxes that prevent the earth from absorbing us back into it. We cage the animals we are to eat. A rule broken long ago. Now we cage them for fun, and yes, for their bile. Let's not forget dog fighting – to the death – for fun. We think we are in control. And many of us have gods to help us believe that we are superior and justify to our actions. Maybe that common need of all cultures to explain ourselves as superior thru a god figure is our way of excusing this behavior, among other reasons. I believe that as soon as we stopped playing by the rules, we stopped being a constructive part of this beautiful planet, and the only happy ending is our own demise.

Of all of the many religions and beliefs of origin, the American Indians were among the most honest to this planet. They were among the most humble. Their myths do not teach that they are superior, but teach that they are only a part of their world which is to be honored. Think about it: it was not even two hundred years ago that they still lived in harmony with nature, while it had been hundreds and thousands of years since us invaders had lived in harmony with her and instead had been dominating and controlling her to our benefit. And if we hadn't come, they would still be able to live like that.

Now we judge them for doing what we do every day in every state somewhere in this nation. Now we judge them for doing what we showed them.

I want no animal to suffer. I could kill a man with my bare hands for some of these deeds. But man has become very complicated. And it is a complicated world. Rushing to judgment without considering everything involved is one of man's more ignorant skills.

"...we occupy not a well-mannered clockwork universe, but a destructive, violent, and hostile one." -Neil de Grasse Tyson


2manyhorses   August 9th, 2009 8:47 pm ET

Sam...
Don't ASSume so much.
I've written my representatives about the slaughter in Darfur and how we should be there instead of Iraq.
Have always been against involvement in Iraq and Iran and wish the US could retain their old reputation as we used to be known; defenders of human rights...as opposed to furthering/condoning the pillage and plunder of our most wealthy corporations (ie- Haliburton, etc.).
I am an advocate for the animals, but also take in children via VEFC, on my own tab. Also volunteer for the local SPCA and have 5 dogs, 6 horses, and 4 cats...all rescue/adopted.
Don't assume that caring for animals means that is where your compassion ends!!!!


Joan Norris   August 9th, 2009 9:10 pm ET

I am getting all these posts, which I asked for, but when I tried to unsubscribe because there are so many, you say I am not subscribed to any post. PLEASE FIX THIS.


robin   August 9th, 2009 9:45 pm ET

ok,I've followed this blog for several days. Almost everyove argees that the bears are not being taken care of, or are abused.

Instead of replying to the blog I'd rather spend my time writing to someone who "can " make a differance. Is there someone to send an email to, either to the reservation or a wildlife group?(not Peta)

Everyone is voiceing an opinion, but are the voices going to the right place? Boycoting the bear zoo might send a message, but the bears will pay in less funds for food, what little they get.... they beg for food? what do visitors give them? A cooked hot dog, pop corn? They are raw meat eaters, scavangers. Do the research: what do they eat in the wild?

I've seen wild bears eat out of dumpsters,(turkey legs). They did not ask for this, we moved into their home. I thought I read someone said they were tame bears, THERE IS NO SUCH THING. THEY TOLORATE OUT OF FEAR. Give them a quility of life we call retirement.

and above all i'm sorry if i offended someone due to spelling or gramer errors. I'd rather see someone give opinion and have it miss-spelled then sit back and do NOTHING!


td   August 10th, 2009 9:21 am ET

It is a sad historic fact that those who have been oppressed often turn around and similarly oppress other sentient beings. Bob Barker is a great, great man to be doing something about this atrocity.


T   August 10th, 2009 10:56 am ET

Too bad Bob decided to throw terms like "barbarian" and "uncivilized" into his press conference. As an enrolled member of the Eastern Band, that is definitely NOT the way to communicate with this community. Go away.


Susan   August 10th, 2009 12:51 pm ET

Well said Sheila. Who do I contact in NC?


SJA   August 10th, 2009 1:13 pm ET

Thank goodness for PETA. I cry over animal abuse, but tears won't solve the problem. It takes courage and tenacity. I support PETA because I believe they do whatever must be done to keep the issue of animal abuse in the public eye and, someday, to get it solved. I hope and pray I'll live to see that day.


Donna B   August 10th, 2009 1:31 pm ET

I'm half Sioux on Fathers side. We were taught to respect nature and animals. If you kill an animal to eat, you thank it etc. I'm sadden to see this type of abuse from native people.
I hope this zoo and others like it are either brought up to code and watched carefully or shut down!
As for the person who stated " it's on reservation land and no business of the government". This isn't the 17th century it's the 21st.


Bonnie   August 10th, 2009 1:49 pm ET

I'm so weary of the same old arguments when it comes to those of us who truly care about the welfare of all animals and who speak up for them. I hear it every day ad naseum.

Most of us don't have the clout that Bob Barker has, and I thank God every day for people like him who DO have that clout and use it for the greater good of the animals. NO animal was put on this earth for our entertainment, exploitation or to eat. Period. The horrors we rain down on these innocent beings is beyond comprehension sometimes, and it's always in the name of the almight dollar.

Those of us who have made the choice to be a voice for the voiceless don't care any less about other issues such as child abuse. It just means we have chosen THIS battle to take on. Others choose the other battles to fight. Neither one negates the other, but just reinforces the fact that people care passionately about things and work to make changes for those things.

No, I don't eat animals. Yes I'm fighting against factory farming, kill shelters when no-kill is an easy option, puppy mills and the horrors inflicted there, promotion of spay and neuter programs, and ANY situation where an animal is exploited, such as circuses or these road side "zoos".

Who cares if it was PETA or any other organization who checked into this? The fact is SOMEBODY cared enough to do it. While I don't agree with some of PETA's actions, no one can dispute their undercover work done for the animals. For that reason alone, I applaud them. PAWS is another incredibly wonderful organization who does great things for animals everywhere. They expose the truth of these horrors every day. Sadly, when faced with these horrors, a great majority of people want to stick their heads in the sand and start throwing rocks at the people who exposed it, rather than aiming at the ones causing the atrocities. They'd rather it all just go away, instead of opening their eyes and SEEING THE TRUTH.

The bottom line here is that these bears are living a miserable existence (it can't even be called a "life" because it's nothing close to that) at the hands of "man" and it needs to be put to an end. Period. Even one hour a day is one too many for these animals, whose instincts tell them to climb trees, dig in the dirt, explore, hibernate, anything except this horror they are made to endure now.

As for being placed in sanctuary, nobody said it had to be in a sanctuary where hunting is allowed. There a number of wonderful bear sanctuaries around the country who would gladly take these precious animals and give them a forever home, where they are safe from harm. That's where they belong.

For once, people need to look past their greed and their own desires and think about the animals, whose CARE was entrusted to us by the Creator, or whomever you believe to be the higher power. I am part Cherokee, and proud of that heritage, but this shames me beyond comprehension. How can anyone with that blood running through their veins and that rich heritage in which animals, especially bears, are revered sanction and defend this kind of atrocity? The only way is if they have also turned their backs on that heritage and think only of their greed and personal gain. It's the animals that matter here, and nothing and nobody else. Whomever steps up to the plate and will DO something about it is a hero in my book, regardless of what their names are.

This is but one drop in a tsunami of horrors being committed against the animals every minute of every day around the globe. But it is one that CAN and SHOULD be stopped for the sake of those precious animals.

Bless you Bob Barker, for all that you have done for animals in your lifetime. There is a special place in heaven reserved for you, and before you enter those gates, thousands of animals waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge, to bow down to you and honor you as a rescuer.


C.J.   August 10th, 2009 3:13 pm ET

Too bad creepy old Bob Barker didn't treat his female employees as well as he would have these bears treated! He could have avoided being sued 8 times and spending millions in settlements and paying women off. Was Bob Barker the best PETA could get for a spokesperson? Next time get a celebrity with credibility and respect.


Christina Jester   August 10th, 2009 5:12 pm ET

how can one blame the government for the action of the wicked. I don't see the government forcing these people to mistreat animals so why bring them into the issue and dodge the real problem. Animal abuse is just that no matter your nationally, or your ethnic back ground. These animals do not deserve this and if you think so then lets see how you would like being looked up in a cage without proper food. I don't have much confidence in the PETA organization I would feel more comfortable if the SPCA was investigating the issue, due to the results that I have seen when they bring the abusers to court.


Maureen & Family   August 10th, 2009 6:05 pm ET

Mr. Barker, your compassion inspires us. Don't give up on the bears and we will continue to spread the word.


Beth   August 10th, 2009 6:09 pm ET

This is a BIG THANK YOU to both Bob Barker and PETA. I know PETA sometimes gets a bad rap for being too "extreme" (as some have said), but IF they are indeed extreme, they NEED to be to expose the horrors that so many animals endure at the hands of man. If it wasn't for PETA many of these heartbreaking situations and crimes would continue behind locked doors. So PETA has my greatest respect and Bob Barker deserves a big round of applause for bringing this to the public's attention. Also, I think it's fantastic that there's a growing internet community of animal rights supporters who can share this kind of information rapidly and move en mass to help in shutting down inhumane facilties, etc. And lastly, thanks to Larry King for having Bob on his show (I missed the airing but got this site link from an animal rights activist friend).


Sam   August 10th, 2009 6:09 pm ET

The matter of the "bear abuse" should be reviewed and decided by the Chief and the Tribal Council, IF THEY DECIDE to do it.
...
Let's again explain something to the NAIVE: The question of Tribal Sovereignty is PARAMOUNT.
The claim of "bear abuse" is simply a ruse. The tactic is simple – once allowed to stick their sniffing noses and grubby fingers into Tribal lands, the outsiders will next decide that the Tribe is not taking good care of other things as well. This in turn will lead to confiscations and taking over the natural resources present on the Tribal territories.
Two years ago I have had a conversation with a representative of Oglala Lakota near Badlands National Park, which borders the Native lands.
I have asked him if they considered testing and assaying their lands for presence of hydrocarbons or other mineral resources. His immediate answer was – "No, because if any are found, these lands will be stolen from us too".
...
To persons with intentions to trespass and "free the bears": try to think a little. The "thief in the night" may encounter an unkind welcome.


Susan   August 10th, 2009 6:30 pm ET

Dear Sam:
What in heaven's name are you trying to tell me? Maybe other people get it, but I don't. Tribal Sovereignty is not about the right to abuse any living creature, human or otherwise. I respect your rights and I respect your property, but that has nothing to do with your personal right to decide whether you are mistreating animals or not.

In my house, my decisions are not PARAMOUNT. If I suddenly lose my way and start beating or oppressing anyone who happens to live here and I am found out, I will be called on it. And so it should be....I don't want to take your rights away, I just want the animals to have some.


Sam   August 10th, 2009 7:07 pm ET

Dear Susan:
I wholeheartedly agree that the alleged case of animal abuse is most disturbing to me as a human being. In that we are on the same side of the fence.

Regarding what I am trying to say here:
Please consider the following situation: Presume that you reside in the state where the legal alcohol drinking age is 18 years old, and in the adjacent state the legal drinking age is 21.
Does it give the right to the police from the adjacent state to come and arrest, imprison and deny you your parental rights for serving alcohol to your 19 year-old child?

That is the PARAMOUNCY of the Sovereignty. You are subject to the Law of your land. Not the law of someone else’s. If that law is unkind or inhuman, like the laws of racial segregation in the past of our country, they must me decried and exposed and lawfully changed. The denial of lawful process only leads to lawlessness.
The militant confrontation did not end racial segregation. The daily grind of shaming the silent majority that supported the segregation by “averting their eye” – that’s what made all the difference.
This is all I am trying to say.


Susan   August 10th, 2009 7:21 pm ET

I often reiterate what my own mother would say, "The Law is an Ass". Absolutely, and so imperfect it would be funny if it were not sad.


Sam   August 10th, 2009 7:48 pm ET

“Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” … Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill.


Susan   August 10th, 2009 8:06 pm ET

Loved Winston Churchill.....and love those bears. I don't understand why some people can't relate to how it might feel to be so abused. Animals have feelings.


Sam   August 10th, 2009 8:16 pm ET

Cherokee people, like all people, have feelings too. Tread lightly...
Gotta go.

To all:
Hope we all gained a little wisdom from this exchange.
Best wishes on your life's journey.


Susan   August 10th, 2009 8:18 pm ET

You too Sam.


Karen Dawn   August 10th, 2009 10:11 pm ET

I just had to send a quick huge thank you for this heartening story. It was to stop my blood from boiling when I heard about the mother suggesting the dog be put down, but I managed, and focused on the love shown by the families, both permanent and foster.


Willow   August 10th, 2009 11:30 pm ET

Thanks Bob Barker for raising consciousness about the routine mistreatment of these bears. It is so ironic that it is Indians who are the culprits of this insensitive capitalist cruelty toward the innocent animals who are part of the sacred web of life. It comes full circle.
But, it's not about who's doing it, it's about the bears! They should be relocated to a sanctuary, not just given a larger prison to be slaves for money grubbing entrepreneurs.


Judith Gaughran   August 10th, 2009 11:38 pm ET

I hope that Bob Barker's attention to these conditions will persuade the Cherokee to shut-down these horrible attractions. Somehow, I'm amazed that Native Americans who profess love and respect for animals would be associated with something so cruel and disrespectful to wild-life.


Jeff Altaffer   August 10th, 2009 11:42 pm ET

Thanks for the Bob Barker blog on the Cherokee Bear Pits! It is a terrible thing that people need to know about.


Cathy   August 11th, 2009 12:01 am ET

Thank you, Bob Barker, for bringing the situation of these bears to the nation's attention.

I first heard about bear pits this year when I visited an animal sanctuary that had a bear who had lived for many years in one of these horrible facilities. Because of the abuse and neglect this bear suffered, as well as a lifetime of walking around on concrete floors, this poor creature was so crippled that he could barely move. The sanctuary keepers told me that it was a good day when he crawled out of his den to get food. I felt so bad for him.

I ask the Cherokee people of North Carolina to please close down these bear pits immediately and send the bears to a reputable sanctuary to be cared for in a natural setting for the rest of their lives.


Bobbee Murr   August 11th, 2009 12:16 am ET

Thank you, Mr. Barker and Mr. King, for this piece. Humans need to understand that cages and other small enclosures are cruel towards those who should live free. An exception is pet carriers used for short trips . Sanctuary now for all those bears! Respect our Home and all life.


stephanie   August 11th, 2009 12:54 am ET

It's wonderful to see Bob Barker, who has had a wonderful life and could easily retire and enjoy himself, continue to stand up for animals everywhere. He's a great guy and his age and health is a testament to the beneficial efffect of helping those who are less fortunate. We should all follow his example. It would make the world – and each one of us – better.


jami   August 11th, 2009 1:09 am ET

Bob Barker is an angel. I have worked with him on Los Angeles Zoo campaigns. We need many more people with his compassion and drive and deep pockets!!!


Bruce Papier   August 11th, 2009 1:15 am ET

Thanks for airing this program.


Deborah   August 11th, 2009 1:20 am ET

I visited one of these places about 25 years ago when I was a much younger girl. The bears were kept in a set of bare concrete "pits" in the ground. It was a miserable way for them to have to spend what little bit of life they would have. I was naive enough (then) to ask where the bears came from. I was told by the operator that they only took baby bears that had been orphaned by their mothers. Another worker said, "Yeah, they were orphaned – right after we shot their mothers." The experience changed my life. I never looked at animals as ours to do with as we choose again. Thank you to Bob Barker for bringing this issue to the public eye.


Natasha   August 11th, 2009 7:14 am ET

Thank you Bob Barker for helping the innocent. I'm so happy he speaks out about horrific animal cruelty. People can learn from him that animals feel.

Thank you so much for this cnn!


GWY   August 11th, 2009 7:59 am ET

I wish that Bob would have done his homework. THE TRIBE DOES NOT OWN THESE BEAR ZOOS. Only 1 zoo is owned by a tribal member (Cherokee Bear Zoo), the other two places are leased out by non tribal members. Why is there a sign at the bear zoo saying that PETA is not allowed in there? Because the PETA organization came on the reservation harassing tribal members and tourists who have nothing to do with the zoos. You want to get rid of them then go after the owners – NOT THE TRIBE!

It is also a shame that Bob Barker claims to be part Native American but came in here saying things on our local news like "I came to save them from themselves" (speaking of the Cherokee people) and then he stated that we were like a third world country on the doorstep of Asheville (which is where he stayed)

To come in with that type of attitude got him NO WHERE. If he felt the bears were in such bad shape, why bring all the press in and bombard us before he did his homework. Why not have met with the Chief and the Council and the OWNERS of the zoos IN PRIVATE?? He would have gotten so much further. He decided to come and make it a media circus and he and PETA pranced around like it was the Bob Barker show.

He needs to show a little respect along with PETA!


Strongheart   August 11th, 2009 8:07 am ET

everyone who is upset about the Bears, here is an idiea !!!! Lets all put our money togther to help bulid a bigger living area for the Bears
Have a telaton in cherokee and I bet we can raise enough money to make a kisk ass home for them !!!!!! .


Ann   August 11th, 2009 8:29 am ET

The one I feel sorry for in all this is Bob Barker. He has become in his old age a PETA puppet saying whatever his "friends" at PETA want him to. I'm betting that they won't only use him for his celebrity in life but also have their eyes on his money.
I haven't seen these bears so can't comment on that but I have seen the elephant in the zoo that Bob caused such a huge fuss about here and I have spoken with the zoo staff and witnessed the care and attention given. My decision in that case were that PETA obviously has some other agenda here and that the elephant in question was well cared for and certainly not abused or tortured as they claimed.
I have no respect for PETA or their tactics and Bob Barker's involvement does nothing for me other than make him less credible and I have much less respect for him.


Rose Viggiano   August 11th, 2009 9:58 am ET

Bob – thank you for your serious attention to what should be considered torture and therefore illegal. These bears can not speak for themselves and they need people like you and the family you mentioned to speak on their behalf. I wish more people would see the connection between harming animals and living in on a war torn planet. We can not end human suffering while condoning animal suffering


Bonnie Shulman   August 11th, 2009 10:42 am ET

Bob Barker, I saw your profile piece on Sunday Morning on CBS. As an animal lover myself, who cares greatly about these bears, I just want to tell you that I think you are a godsend.

Bless you, and whatever I can do to help the bears, through Peta or any other organization, I will do.

Barker for President!


Trish Sutton   August 11th, 2009 11:06 am ET

Thank you Mr. Barker and CCN Larry King Live. Please let us know how this issue is handled. We appreciate your drawing attention to the cruelty to these poor animals. I hope and pray that these bears will be given a suitable home where they are loved and appreciated.


Eva   August 11th, 2009 12:10 pm ET

Thank you, Susan, for your sane comments. In my extensive experience volunteering with both human and animal charities, people who care about animals are always caring toward humans as well. Justice isn't a finite commodity reserved only for humans. There is plenty to go around if we – as civilized humans – are willing to dole it out. Enough of this scarcity mentality that if you're helping animals you can't (or won't) care about people. If your heart is too small to care about both people AND animals, that's unfortunate.


Elaine Livesey-Fassel   August 11th, 2009 12:44 pm ET

I wish to say a very appreciative comment about the wise and humane words spoken by a great entertainer , humanitarian and animal advocate Bob Barker, on behalf of the bears kept in a deplorable roadside zoo. Any decent and civil person will recognize that such confinement of a formerly wild creature is cruel and to be so treated is demeaning to a civilized society . As human beings become more aware and empathetic to the plight of animals in zoo,circuses et.al., eespecially those so confined in grossly sub-standard quarters, people of conscience will protest. Thank you for giving this sad situation a respectable hearing.


Janice   August 11th, 2009 1:48 pm ET

For everyone that is horrified by this story, SPREAD THE WORD! Tell everyone you know to boycott the area. One of the ways to bring about change is when the local businesses and the State feel the impact in their wallets. I will be doing my part and I will spread the word and I will boycott Cherokee until they close down those horrible places!


Kathryn   August 11th, 2009 2:04 pm ET

Heart breaking that bears are exploited this way. So typical that when affluence supplants poverty, exploitation is most often the catalyst. Too bad the Cherokee Indians in NC don't help their brothers the Navajo Indians in New Mexico and Arizona who live in conditions which rival what the bears suffer. I will never again feel the same about the Trail of Tears. If the NC Cherokee Indians who exploit the bears are related to those Indians who suffered through the Trail of Tears, it is unfornate their ancestors survived so they could produce
such cruel progeny who trivializes the bear species which helped
Indians survive before they became "civilized."


Melissa Frost   August 11th, 2009 3:18 pm ET

I love Bob Barker and the great friend he's been to animals. It is so great to hear that at 85, he's still an activist. GO BOB, WE LOVE YOU!!! And CNN, thanks for your coverage of animal-related issues.


Francine M.   August 11th, 2009 8:03 pm ET

Mr. Barker: Thank you for continuing your fight for our precious animals. We all must speak up to stop any and all abuses, especially for those who cannot speak for themselves both animal and human.


Netanya   August 12th, 2009 12:39 pm ET

Rock on Bob! Your voice for this travesty against bears is mighty, as well as your constant voice speaking for the animals of our planet who have no choice or voice. Thanks for your efforts and inspiration!


Julie Van Ness   August 12th, 2009 5:06 pm ET

Thanks, once again, Bob! You make us proud to be Americans!!!


geda ku juus   August 12th, 2009 6:48 pm ET

Free the bears! But keep the indians locked up on reservations!!!


Carol E McCormick   August 12th, 2009 11:06 pm ET

Oh Bob, how I miss seeing you!! I remember marching with you at the first MeatOut in NYC. You have always used your celebrity status and put your self personally on the line whether it has been popular or not, for the animals and my family is forever grateful.

I too, wish the Cherokee nation could remove this horrid practice and stain on their very lives.

Having seen many of these bears suffering in so many ways, no human can defend this for any reason. And the suffering is so very obvious to anyone.

We will not stop fighting until we win, for no one is more tenacious than we are when it comes to sentient creatures like this.

Why don't the Cherokees realize that abusing anyone, human or not, is not in anyone's best interests? I had thought so much more of their nation before this.

My love to you forever, Bob. And a big thanks to Larry for all he does every single night.


A Noun   August 13th, 2009 11:45 am ET

Wow. this is the third time I'm going to attempt to make this comment, so I can only gather that all moderators on this thread are PETA sympathizers.

Peta. Kills. Animals. there's even a web site by that name. Check it out.

I have never seen, or heard of, any endangered animal situation where PETA really did any good. They come in, get the quick publicity, grab the donations and go.

I won't try commenting again, here, if this one doesn't go through. But this thread isn't the only game in town. The story will be told.


Kathryn   August 13th, 2009 2:22 pm ET

A Noun if you would be able to visit PETA HQ in Norfolk you would see the spay neuter mobile. PETA has done spay neuter for over 40,000 dogs. The PETA spay neuter mobile does lots and lots of s/n's in North Carolina. Also at PETA HQ you would see the stack of dog houses and bedding for the houses which PETA gives to owners who can't or won't provide shelter for their chained prisoner dog. How about educating yourself about PETA and free yourself of the false information you believe. PETA started the animal rights movement and PETA is the animal rights rescue orgnztn most people think about calling whenever they see animal abuse. Like it or not PETA gets things done.


Bonnie   August 13th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

A Noun –
Almost every shelter in America kills animals. Yes, I realize that PETA kills more than most. It's one issue I have about their work. BUT, if you make a list side by side of the GOOD they do versus that, it far outweighs it. Their undercover investigations have had HUGE impacts on changes needed for animals. Designers who have used fur are dropping fur like nobody's business because of PETA. Hormel saw numerous employees FIRED and a national outpouring of outrage and boycotts of their products because of PETA. Stop reading the sensationalized, lopsided web site you keep referring to, and open your eyes to ALL of what they do.......a HUGE part of which HELPS animals.

I'm sick of people immediately negating anything anyone does that's good for animals simply because PETA might be involved. Bob Barker shined the spotlight on the horrors these bears are enduring. That's the whole point here. Period. End of story. This is NOT a debate about any animal welfare organization, but rather is about animal cruelty that is going on right this minute for those precious bears.

Stop trying to derail the purpose of what Bob did and focus on the REAL subject.........the bears and the cruelty they are enduring.

Again, thank you Bob for being such an incredible voice for the voiceless through your lifetime. I am honored to have even read about your work. I'd give anything to actually meet you in person, give you a huge hug and let you know just how much your work has meant to me and to the millions of animals you have helped throughout the years. Bless you.


Holly Pearson   August 15th, 2009 9:09 am ET

Shame on anyone who would treat animals this way. Tell me please, who is entertained by this? I'm afraid that there will always be some people who wil do anything to make a buck. But what about the people who support this cruelty – the tourists. People who actually pay for this to continue.

If we all could have just a little of Bob Barker in us. Hard to believe that he and the perpetrators are members of the same species, never mind ethnic background.


Robin Tierney   August 17th, 2009 12:15 pm ET

There is no reason to keep wild animals in captivity. "Profit" and "Just because we want to" are immoral reasons. The world would be a better place if people would stop giving into to base and craven impulses of profit- and lust-seeking individuals.


Sheila Taylor   August 17th, 2009 8:18 pm ET

I am shocked at how cruel and thoughtless people can be regarding the welfare of animals. But to think that my own people, Native Americans, are capable of such cruelty when their history is one of being in tune with the world and its creatures is more than I can bear. Please, please help free these animals, and any other at these deplorable roadside zoos.


Denise A   August 21st, 2009 2:39 pm ET

Thank You Bob for all you do for the animals.

the best thing we can all do is spread the word about these places and boycott with tourist $$$$ the cities and towns where these deplorable animal prisons exist. Write to the leaders and other officials why you are boycotting and how you will urge others to do the same.

when local businesses, hotel, restaurant and retailers start feeling the effects they'll pressure for change....money is a powerful incentive.

thank you again for exposing this.


Denise A   August 21st, 2009 3:01 pm ET

just a thought Bob

maybe you could contact Ty Pennington from the Extreme Makeover Show and have them come and build an entirely new sanctuary and homes for the bears.

these bears cannot be released into the wild, more than likely they are psychologically damaged with all kinds of neurosis and will need human care for the rest of their lives, at least afford them some measure of comfort , space and dignity to express their natural behaviors and individual personalities.

just a thought.


geda ku juus   August 24th, 2009 6:17 am ET

Free the bears! But keep the indians locked up on reservations!!!!


Vicki Lloyd-Smith   September 9th, 2009 6:35 am ET

Bob, like so many who have written above, firstly "thank you" for bringing this to the world's stage! Secondly, why cant PETA or any other animal right group SIMPLY USE THEIR POWER AND POSITION AND RESPECT AMONGST the community to just go to this pathetic excuse for a park and CONFISCATE THE BEARS! There are several places that they could be retired to, PROPER SANCTUARIES that they can live out the remainder of their lives in peace, harmony and with natural surroundings! AND THEN CLOSE THESE MONGRELS DOWN, NEVER ALLOWING THEM TO LAY CLAIM TO ANOTHER ANIMAL AGAIN! And as for that idiot man handling that little bear cub, it wouldn't matter, as someone else suggested, if these people received a grant from the government to improve the state of the place, if you have horrible people like that working there, then what hope is there for the bears anyway ... they will always be treated cruelly!
CONFISCATING AND RETIRING THE BEARS AND SHUTTING THIS PLACE DOWN IS THE ONLY ANSWER!!!!


Mystie   September 9th, 2009 5:21 pm ET

'Federal standards' are obviously not good enough.


Julee   September 9th, 2009 7:20 pm ET

The plight of the bears brings immense sadness and despair that there are people in the world who live without compassion and respect for all living creatures. Please help these bears escape their prison and give them a peaceful future to live out their lives in.


Else Poulsen   September 21st, 2009 2:16 pm ET

This is not about people – this is about bears. Bears do not care about human politics or the human agenda, bears care that their genetic expectations are not being met. These bears are not living the lives they are meant to and they are showing their inability to deal with their hideous circumstances by pacing and exhibiting other stereotypies. Again – this is not about people – this is about bears!


Julie Gangloff   September 23rd, 2009 1:32 pm ET

There is an old Indian legend that says “When a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into Heaven. At the head of that bridge awaits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animals, based on what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge…and which are turned away.” I hope this legend is true because ultimately this will be their judgment regardless of what we are able or unable to do now.


larry young   September 7th, 2010 8:07 pm ET

the fact is: this is an example of government at it's worst. sadly, all congressmen/women do not write their own bills and do not oversee the writing of the regulations and rules which implement them. then, if you couple that with the inspectors who are hired as political favors, you have a recipe for disaster. our government works very well when all the participants uphold their responsibilities. the small percentage of those who are lazy, selfish, and opportunistic can very easily tarnish the hours of preparation and honest efforts of the high percentage of true statesmen. mr barker is an fellow american; no more than that. celebrities have influence over us common 'taters because we allow it. neshoba.


regina long   October 7th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

we are trying to save animals that have been mistreted and abused , we have a mortan building that is 75x 250 that needs to be brought up to code ,it sits on a 13 acre farm we love animals and need funding to save them.


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