When you think about animals who are used and abused in the entertainment industry, monkeys, elephants, and tigers often come to mind. Unfortunately, these are not the only animals who are torn from the wild and put on display in zoos, circuses, and other venues for the purpose of profit, bears also commonly fall prey to this sort of life.

Across the world, bears are kept in roadside zoos and used as photo props for paying visitors. These bears are rarely given the proper care or diet that they need. For example, in 2013, eleven bears were rescued from the Chief Saunooke Bear Park in North Carolina where they were found starving and living in concrete pits. And this is the hardly the only way bears are abused. Bears are often used for other purposes, as well, including in shopping malls and fairs, magic acts, photo shoots and even as entertainment in taxidermist shopsAll of which are incredibly inappropriate and quite frankly, ridiculous. 


Luckily, some bears do get rescued from these sort of abusive environments thanks to kind individuals and organizations. These three bears are a few of the fortunate former-entertainment animals who have been saved from this deplorable life. No animal should have to suffer for the sake of our amusement, so if you ever come across an attraction featuring a captive bear – or any other wild animal – be a Green Monster and don’t attend. It is up to us to keep wild animals in the wild where they belong. 

1. Cholita

Cholita was recently rescued from a facilitiy in Peru thanks to the help of Animal Defenders International. Although you can barely tell based off of her current hairless appearance, she is an endangered Andean Spectacled Bear. This particular bear is actually the same spaces as “Paddington,” the lovable children’s book character. Unfortunately, Cholita’s life bears little resemblance to this fabled character.

Originally used as a circus bear, Cholita’s owners removed her claws, and smashed in all of her teeth so that she couldn’t attack her handlers. After years of stress and neglect, she has also lost most of her hair. This poor little bear has been kept in a small zoo in a remote part of Peru for the past decade while her caretakers attempted to find her a permanent home. But no home was found. Luckily Animal Defenders International intervened, taking Cholita into their care, providing her with the specialist care she needed, and building her a lush natural habitat at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in the Amazon Cloud Forest. Cholita can live out the rest of her life in the peace she deserves, complete with bear neighbors!


2. King Arthur

King Arthur is an American Black Bear who was rescued by Noah’s Ark in 2014. Despite his kingly title, Arthur spent three decades in a cage, living at a small zoo without proper veterinary care or attention. After living in a hard concrete enclosure, he developed painful arthritis. Poor King Arthur also destroyed his teeth by pulling on the bars in his cage.

Luckily, King Arthur has done a complete 180 since arriving at the sanctuary. He gained 100 pounds and found some new pastimes, including digging in the dirt as well as gathering branches and straw to arrange in his dens. He loves to socialize with his keepers but doesn’t play well with other bears and is kept on his own. Not to worry though, male black bears are also loners in the wild, so this attitude isn’t unusual. Good thing King Arthur has some kind human subject to wait on his every need, so he is all set to lead a happy, regal life from now on.


3. Cherry Bomb

Cherry Bomb is an Alaskan Silvertip Grizzly Bear who was born at Cherokee Bear Park Zoo in North Carolina in January of 2006. While her name sounds fun, her life was anything but until she was rescued by Lions, Tigers and Bears Sanctuary. At Cherokee Bear Park Zoo, Cherry Bomb was used as a cub “petting prop” along with her brother Albert. Once she grew too big to be handled by visitors, she and Albert were sent to auction in Ohio and ending up being purchased by a man from North Carolina.


Their homecoming was less than welcoming, however, because it meant that they would be yet again sent to live in a zoo and be displayed for profit. At this zoo, Cherry Bomb was declawed and then sold a short four weeks later to private owners. From there, she then went to Alligator Adventure in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. After five months there, she was passed around some more before ending up with private owners once again in North Carolina – sounds like the worst backpacking trip ever, doesn’t it? Eventually, this couple could no longer care for Cherry Bomb or the four bears they owned and decided to surrender them all to Lions, Tigers and Bears in May of 2014. It took Cherry Bomb eight years end up in a proper, caring home, but all that matters is that her life of being bought and sold for entertainment is finally over!




Lead image source: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region/Flickr