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Animals  (tags: Animal Welfare, Animal Cruelty, Cherokee Bears, Free the Cherokee Bears, URGENT ACTION! )

- 1876 days ago -
According to Cherokee legend black bears are the keepers of dreams. When observing the bears who have been relegated to the concrete pits of roadside zoos in the Qualla Boundary area of western No. Carolina one must question the integrity of this belief.

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Michelle S (462)
Monday March 4, 2013, 6:59 pm

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page after clicking on the link above and go to
"What You Can Do."


Three roadside zoos—Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, and Santa's Land—keep bears in grossly inhumane conditions, as detailed in PETA's 63-page bear welfare report documenting serious problems found by a team of bear experts at these facilities. As though locked in a 1950s time warp, these Cherokee facilities display neurotic, hungry bears in desolate concrete pits or cramped cages in which the animals pace back and forth, walk in endless circles, cry and whimper, and beg tourists to toss them a morsel of food.

Highly intelligent animals capable of empathy and a wide range of feelings, bears are active for up to 18 hours per day in their natural habitat and spend their time exploring diverse terrain. In the wild, bears forage for a wide variety of foods and dig in soft earth, brush, and leaves—but the concrete pits that the Cherokee bears are forced to call home deprive them of everything that comes naturally to them. Surrounded by four solid walls, the bears cannot scan the horizon, gain a perspective on their surroundings, or make much use of their acute sense of smell.

Cherokee's roadside zoos have made no effort to simulate the animals' natural habitat or provide them with stimulation. They have also been cited repeatedly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failing to meet minimal federal standards established in the Animal Welfare Act.

The cages lack any form of environmental enrichment, such as appropriate climbing structures, hidden food treats for foraging, barriers for privacy, and substrate for digging, resting, and nest-building.

Michelle S (462)
Monday March 4, 2013, 7:03 pm
If you haven't already, send an e-mail to Chief Michell Hicks at:


and call him at


to let him know that the cruel bear zoos must be shut down. Please refrain from using the words "bear" and "Cherokee" in your e-mail subject line to avoid having your e-mail blocked.

Thank You!

Nicole W (646)
Monday March 4, 2013, 7:10 pm
signed and shared. will call tomorrow. thank you Michelle

Past Member (0)
Monday March 4, 2013, 7:43 pm
These Bears gotta be taken outta this hell and soon. Signed,thanks Michelle.

Ingrid A (524)
Monday March 4, 2013, 7:45 pm
Its done.

S Ricci (2)
Monday March 4, 2013, 8:10 pm
Free the black bears!

Christeen A (370)
Monday March 4, 2013, 8:47 pm

Esther Z (94)
Monday March 4, 2013, 8:47 pm
Noted and signed.

Autumn S (151)
Monday March 4, 2013, 10:32 pm
signed and noted

Nancy Black (308)
Monday March 4, 2013, 10:33 pm
Noted, tweeted, tweeted, shared, tweeted, shared and signed. They may not realize it but they are treating the bear horribly. Doing something in ignorance is not excusable because the animal still suffers. We need to think about how we treat animals and improve our behavior.

Kim O (396)
Monday March 4, 2013, 11:34 pm
Signed! Thanks Michelle, you rock!!

Mike H (252)
Monday March 4, 2013, 11:38 pm
Signed thanks Michelle

Stuart Thomas (497)
Monday March 4, 2013, 11:57 pm
Noted, signed, and submitted.

Thank you, Michelle.

Debbie Crowe (87)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 12:33 am
Signed, sent and shared!

It's time these poor bears received the respect they deserve!!

. (1)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 12:37 am
Noted and signed. Thank you Michelle.

Michelle S (462)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 12:50 am
When you send your message to the tribal members please leave out the word "bear" as it has been flagged and is causing emails to bounce back. To me, this means they are being bombarded and don't want to hear any more.....a good thing! Feel free to modify and send my message below to Chief Michell Hicks if you wish. The lives of so many precious bears...I mean our ursine brothers and sisters...... are at stake!

Message Box: Immediate Attention Required


Dear Sir:

I am contacting you regarding the animals being held prisoner in roadside zoos within the Qualla Boundary, namely the ursine members of the animal kingdom who have been revered by your very own ancestors for thousands of years.

I speak for hundreds of thousands of animal welfare advocates around the world who are deeply concerned by the lack of proper nutrition, socialization and medical attention available to these animals held within concrete and other makeshift pens within these zoos.

I urge you to make immediate motions to shut down all of these zoos and relocate the animals to reputable sanctuaries known for their care of members of the ursine species like those who are now being held within these zoos.

Thank you in advance for your compassionate decision to close these exploitative establishments and relocate the inhabitants to locations where they will receive proper care.

Sincerely, Michelle M. Sibinovic
California, USA

Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:01 am
Thank you!

. (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:07 am
something has got to be done about this and asap...this behaviour against all abused animals is a disgrace.thanks for putting me on this michelle.take care

Michael C (217)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:09 am
Noted, and signred

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:10 am
signed & shared.. Thank you, Michelle for this~

Elaine Al Meqdad (283)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:51 am

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:53 am
Done , thanks .

gabriela v (172)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 2:53 am

Carol H (229)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 2:59 am
action taken, thanks Michelle

AWAY AWHILE Cal M (1067)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:03 am
signed and noted--thanks Michelle

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:22 am
They've also got the right to survive

Danuta W (1248)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:29 am

Caroline S (78)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:47 am

Jocelyn Koopmann (56)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:54 am
Noted, signed & posted on Face Book too. Hugs Michelle TY from us & the Bears.

Leslene Dunn (84)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:56 am
Noted and signed and emails sent - it is absolutely horrendous - these poor animals were never meant to live like this - what the hell is wrong with these barbarians - they so need to have some sense, compassion and kindness bashed into them.

Giana Peranio-paz (398)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:57 am
Noted and signed, Michelle, thanks.

Yvonne F (181)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 4:06 am
Signed and Emails sent yesterday, fingers crossed! Thanks Michelle for posting this.

Joe R (190)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 4:17 am
Thanks Michelle. Signed and noted.

Michela M (3964)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 4:57 am

Tanya W (65)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 5:08 am
Noted and signed!!!

paolo gualandri (6)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 5:31 am
Signed! tnks

Ruth L (242)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 5:51 am
S&N Thanks Michelle

Ana F (25)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 5:54 am

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:09 am

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:21 am

Joy W (103)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:23 am
Noted and signed.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:26 am
s&n thx:)

P A (117)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:53 am
Emails sent to Tribal Council as on Michelle's other petition - the members were listed there.

Well surprise surprise - I have just received them all back - rejected for 'banned content'!!
This was what I wrote

"Dear Tribal Council
I respectfully ask that you shut down the abusive road side zoos that do not provide suitable living conditions for these bears in and about Cherokee and that you relocate these bears to reputable bear sanctuaries. (Using the Cherokee zoo that has numerous USDA violations against it will not do). Until then it is likely that the boycotts organised by PETA and others will do more financial damage than any gained by keeping such animals (in vile conditions) for passers by to gawp at.

The Tribal Councils have a reputation as being more ethical than most other councils in the world - please live up to that reputation - these animals are being tortured by depriving them of decent, natural living conditions. Please relocate them to a Reputable Sanctuary - thank you."

What was "banned content'??? The word 'please' or perhaps it was 'respectfully' or was it that ferocious word 'ask'??!!!

Or might it just have been the word 'bear' that they have banned? God help the bears as it seems that those who assert they seem the black bears as 'dreamkeepers' won't.


Patricia C (852)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 7:00 am

Thomas P (280)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 7:03 am
Noted and signed...thanks Michelle

Lisa N (206)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 7:38 am
Thank You for Speaking Up for Suffering Bears.
Thank you Michelle!

Tuesday March 5, 2013, 7:43 am
Signed & Noted. I sent e-mails to all the tribal council members yesterday. Thanks Michelle

penny C (85)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 7:45 am

Tuesday March 5, 2013, 7:57 am
Done, thanks.

Lisa Z (168)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 8:07 am
Signed & Shared.

Sara P (57)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 8:27 am
Signed and shared, thanks as always Michelle!!

Süheyla C (234)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 8:40 am
Noted and signed, Michelle, thanks.
Thank you dear Sara for sharing

Sun c (95)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 8:55 am
signed and sent couple emails.

Farah Hage Ali (152)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 9:11 am
noted and signed, thank you

Valerie H (133)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 9:19 am
Thank you, signed a few times

Veronique L (209)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 9:22 am
Noted thanks michelle

naomi cohen (55)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 9:45 am
signed already. thank you, michelle.

Ruth C (87)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 9:53 am

Michelle S (462)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 10:08 am
Hi Pat. We are truly sorry your email came back. The word "bear" is triggering the bounce back. It seems we are getting under their skins. Ha! There's two things you can do (or both):

You can modify and send my email and message above (avoid the use of the word bear anywhere in the message box or body of the email)....or

Email Millie Bowling (, the petition author of the Save the Cherokee Bears petition at, with a copy of your email and she will modify it and forward it to the elders for you. Here is what Millie had to say about emails that were bouncing back:

"Hello to all,
I have received many messages saying the emails to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Council were returned. It appears that the emails are being filtered and the word bear will return your email. So please resend and DO NOT use the word bear. One clever person used the word "ursine cousins". If you email is returned, please send it to me at and I will make sure the email is sent to the Elders who oppose the Bear Zoos at Cherokee. I am so sorry for any inconvenience. Millie

This message is from millie bowling who started the petition 'Free the Bears from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians & Move Bears to a Sanctuary,' which you signed on"

Nancy C (806)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 10:11 am
ty Michelle today and ever...!

Elizabeth F (134)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 10:12 am
Done, noted too, thanks.

M B (62)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 10:56 am
signed & noted, thanks.

samantha l (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 11:36 am

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 11:37 am
Done and done! So so sad.

Bettina Galo (70)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 12:18 pm
I feel horrible. I am deeply distressed because I could not sign the petition because I do not live in America, I'm Uruguayan living in Uruguay, South America. Month'm frustrated and angry. You should be able to write to the representatives of USA while not citizen can confirm as I exist, I live in the country I say...

michelle t (41)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 12:53 pm

. (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:27 pm
Thank you

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:34 pm
sign and sent e-mail and this is particularly disgusting to me as the Native Peoples should understand what Freedom is and "when the bear is gone so is man"
they have lost their spirituality and as one with Bear Medicine I hope these humans pay the price for this abomination

Ana Fontan (16)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 1:54 pm
Noted, signed and shared. Thank you so much, this is so sad!!

Florence Eaise (132)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 2:59 pm
fantastic post Michelle noted signed tweeted and shared on facebook also thanks for the extra information the email address and the sample letter i sent an email with hopes

Jaime Alves (52)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:00 pm

Shirley S (187)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 3:43 pm

Sue McGuey (106)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 4:17 pm
Noted!~ Signed & posted to Facebook!~

Ann L (15)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 4:25 pm
Signed, shared and FB. Thanks Michelle

Lisa W (143)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 4:35 pm
Thank you Michelle, done!

mar l ene dinkins (264)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 4:47 pm
notato done michelle!!!!!!! grazie!!

Laurie S (73)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 5:42 pm
Thank You for Speaking Up for Suffering Bears

Vallee R (280)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:12 pm

Winn A (179)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:13 pm

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:27 pm

Kay M (347)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 6:31 pm

Evelyn B (79)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 7:01 pm
Noted and Signed Tks. Michelle....

Laurie H (817)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 7:34 pm
Dear Michelle, So Many Thanks, Signed & Shared~~

James Merit (144)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 8:04 pm
So sad, done, ty!

Unnikrishnan Sasidharan (44)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 8:19 pm
We’re currently tied up with some technical difficulties. Please check back shortly.

Heidi Aubrey (16)
Tuesday March 5, 2013, 9:56 pm
"We’re currently tied up with some technical difficulties. Please check back shortly"

Unable to sign.

Intan Surya Dawood (3)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 12:46 am
Noted and signed.

. (0)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 1:10 am
put a stop to this and provide proper living accomodations for the bears...this is totaly unacceptable

Ramu Reddy (8)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 1:30 am

Emma S (239)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 1:42 am
Done! Thanks, Michelle.

aa b (10)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 1:55 am
sign seal sent with pleasure to stop this cruelty. why oh why is mankind so bent on killing and harming?

Anna Undebeck (256)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 1:56 am
Noted, signed and shared . Thank you Michelle.

Patricia H. (440)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 2:34 am
noted and shared

Magdika Cecilia Perez (131)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 2:36 am
thank you!

Magdika Cecilia Perez (131)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 2:36 am
thank you!

Ram Reddy (7)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 5:13 am

P A (117)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 5:50 am
Thanks for the confirmation Michelle - I adapted my letter putting in Ursus Americana and Ursines - and it got past their censors in at least four cases! I put a request for a receipt on reading on the emails and four people have gone up in my opinion - Jim Owle, Dennis (Bill) E Taylor, Terry Henry, and Gene 'Tunney' Crowe - as all four of them were kind enough to send the 'read receipt'. I do hope that they will vote to free the bears - it seems possible - and I desperately hope others will vote to free the bears also.


Eliza J (7)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 6:30 am
Signed, shared and noted. I really hope it helps, very sad indeed those zoos....
The Peta site took a while to download, not sure if it was my problem or theirs. Hopefully it was because so many people were signing :-)

Susan G (49)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 6:38 am
Done thank you Michelle!

Helen Beasley (30)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 7:09 am
Noted and signed

Care member (1)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 8:55 am

Deborah Lewis-Smith (0)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 9:09 am
I was born in Asheville North Carolina in 1950. Asheville is 40-45 miles from Cherokee. I graduated from Western Carolina University. I served as a member of the board of directors for Asheville Humane Society. This preface may validate my grasp of the issues with which you are concerned.

First, an important history lesson. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson pushed the Indian Removal Act through congress. The details can be found http:// The very low lights are that the Cherokee were themselves were treated as less than livestock. They were literally herded up and forced to walk the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. There was no concern for those who died along the way. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee refused to go. Many were slaughtered only the heartiest and most determined survived. It has taken centuries for their lands to be restored. What one sees today is a thriving community whose economy is primarily supported through the gaming industry.

Today we, myself included, concern ourselves with wildlife issues. Prior to the advent of the casinos in the mid 1990s much of Cherokee’s economy was dependent on tourism. In order to survive, not thrive, mind you some the Cherokee catered to what tourists were willing to pay for. Families subsisted on meager earnings from Cherokee men, women and children dressed in garish costumes to sell their photographs and memorabilia. There was little if any outside interest in life or culture within the Qualla Boundary. It was all about the “Indian” experience as portrayed in movies and television. Animals in captivity generated more interest which translated to more income.

When people or in this case a people live meager or substandard lifestyles for HUNDREDS of years it is understandable that some become desensitized. When one’s sense of worth is undermined by usurpers it is a travesty. All the more tragic is that in the 19th century the Cherokee sought only to retain part of what belonged to them.

Fast forward and observe the manner in which Chief Mitchell Hicks and the tribal elders were approached by animal activists i.e. disrespectfully demanding respect for animals. The governing body of the EBCI consists of professionals who deserve the same respect as any legislative body. Bob Barker’s appearance was an offense that those of us who are distanced from the proceedings often ridiculed. i.e. The descendants of the Native Americans who told the federal government “Hell no we won’t go!” (from the land that was given to us by God) are unlikely to be intimidated by an aging television celebrity.

If you wish for your voice to be heard hear are suggestions:

Make certain that your facts are current and accurate via your preferred search engine. This winter / spring is different from the past
Demonstrate respect for the individuals Mitchell Hicks and Jim Owle as well as their titles / offices Cherokee Principal Chief and Chairman respectively
If e-mails are returned, print out your correspondence and send snail mail P O Box 455 Cherokee, NC 28719
Adopt the healers’ maxim “First do no harm” as you approach this sensitive issue.

Sandi C (99)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 10:28 am
signed earlier

cynthia l (207)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 4:48 pm

Jade N (22)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 5:10 pm

Michelle S (462)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 6:49 pm
Hi Deborah L. Thanks for the history update. I don't buy into the notion that because a people----any people----are exploited and abused that it in turn excuses any form of animal abuse. It's kind of an affront to me and the bears in question that you should equate Native American exploitation with animal abuse. There is simply no reason to house these bears in squalor and starve them. NONE. As for Bob Barker, he grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation and animals were his best friends. He grew to love and respect them. Do not dare tell me or anyone else his visit was in disrespect. You are reaching, my friend. And I ain't buyin' it.

Aaron Bouchard (158)
Wednesday March 6, 2013, 7:30 pm
Sent emails and noted thanks

Ramu Reddy (8)
Thursday March 7, 2013, 2:56 am

Ram Reddy (7)
Thursday March 7, 2013, 3:31 am

Deborah Lewis-Smith (0)
Thursday March 7, 2013, 10:15 am
Michelle S. Let's start with the easy part I was on site when Bob Barker there OK? Prior to Mr. Barker's visit the national / mainstream media raised people's consciousness regarding Mr. Barker's actions toward WOMEN. try your favorite search engine. Prior to the Casinos in the late 1980'-90's CHEROKEE PEOPLE WERE LIVING IN SQUALOR on the reservation. This is not ancient history for those of us who were born in 1950. A college classmate of mine came from an educated family who chose to live on the reservation. They were among the well-to-do. When she moved into our dorm in 1968 it was the first residence in which Faren had access to indoor plumbing. Yes, I want the bears out of there but "Animal Rights" have become tainted words. As far as Mr. Barker's threats to tourism and commerce the primary industry is now gaming and a second Casino has been approved. Gaming enthusiasts seldom concern themselves with animal welfare and relish eating dead animals and in some cases flaunting their personal wealth with the furs of dead animals on their backs. I have never nor will I ever justify the pits or the reasons behind them. As a Native I will speak up for the Cherokee and have little concern as to whether you buy it or not. "Sales tactics" on behalf of the bears could use some tweaking. Again, human rights trumps my passion for animals and the Cherokee are newly reacquainted with theirs. Some became desensitised as means of coping. Why not try working with or within the EBCI. In closing, I use the word friend sparingly and opt instead for acquaintance. From your comments here and elsewhere on this site you seem to elevate the rights of animals above that of humans. I hardly consider you to be "my friend".

Valerie Disle (66)
Thursday March 7, 2013, 6:28 pm

Michelle S (462)
Thursday March 7, 2013, 8:00 pm
Darn, I forgot to put quotes around the word "friend." My bad.

Michelle S (462)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 10:30 pm
Update From Millie Bowling, Petition Author and Cherokee Bear Advocate:

"The bears from Chief Saunooke Bear Park, the one the USDA fined and removed their license to exhibit animals, are being relocated to an accredited sanctuary. Two are already arrived at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd Texas with the other ten expected to be there within the next 60 days.

The Cherokee Tribal Council working session was postponed until the week of the March 18th due to bad weather. I thank you for all your efforts, emails and prayers. It is making a big difference. Lots of possibilities opening and yet we remain focused on removing the remaining bears as quickly as possible, into an accredited facilitation, and then the Cherokee can begin to create something new, something sacred and honoring to the bear.
Please continue to have your friends and family to sign the petition."

This message is from Millie Bowling who started the petition "Free the Bears from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians & Move Bears to a Sanctuary," which you signed on

SANDRA R (144)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 8:42 am
Noted and email sent. Thank you Michelle.

bev g (128)
Thursday May 9, 2013, 8:07 pm
so evil and inhumane poor animals to deprive them of their animal rights. sick skum man
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