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Second appeal: Please Urge the Cherokee Bear Zoo to Close Cruel Bear Pits

July 9, 2013


Home to about a dozen miserable bears, the Cherokee Bear Zoo is a small remote tourist trap located off a highway in North Carolina—blink, and you’ll miss it. The dilapidated roadside attraction keeps these intelligent animals in grossly inhumane conditions. They are confined to virtually barren concrete pits, where they have no other option but to pace back and forth, walk in endless circles, 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 is natural and important 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. Check out PETA’s investigation of a bear park in Cherokee similar to the Cherokee Bear Zoo here to see the filth, hunger, and misery that these captive bears are forced to endure.

You can help close this cruel animal prison by urging the owners of Cherokee Bear Zoo to release the bears to a reputable sanctuary. They are already feeling the heat from locals and thousands of others who have demanded that the bears be moved to a more natural environment at a reputable sanctuary—one that exists exclusively to benefit and rehabilitate animals.


Use the address to e-mail Cherokee Bear Zoo owners Barry and Collette Coggins.


Dear Mr. and Ms. Coggins:

Please close the Cherokee Bear Zoo bear exhibits immediately and agree to retire the bears to a reputable sanctuary, where they can roam vast acreage, forage for their own food, and act on their natural instincts. A concrete pit is no match for open terrain, and these intelligent animals deserve more than to live out the rest of their days entertaining bored tourists behind concrete walls.

No one wants to see animals suffer, and it’s shameful to continue to deny the frustrated bears the opportunity to thrive elsewhere. There is nothing for them to do but pace back and forth or walk around in circles. They are separated from everything that is natural and important to their species. As people continue to evolve and understand more about these animals’ unique needs, your revenue will continue to drop. It’s 2013, and there is no excuse for profiting from animal suffering in the name of entertainment.

Reputable sanctuaries stand ready to take in these bears so that they can live out the rest of their days in peace. Existing sanctuaries that have no corporate motives and employ experts in specialized care for exotic animals will provide these suffering bears with a much better home. Please take advantage of this opportunity without further delay and retire these bears so that they can finally truly be bears. They did not choose to be in the tourism business. Please don’t allow them to continue to suffer for your choice.

Thank you.

we are bears.
we want out.
in this concrete prison
we cannot move about.
we want to live
in a sanctuary,
as close to a natural
bears life as it can
so please free us from
this manmade hell
time is passing,
and we are not well.


Karen Lyons Kalmenson

46 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2013 11:57 am

    Reblogged this on Carinas space.


  2. July 9, 2013 12:02 pm

    E-mail sent and re-blogged. Thank you Stacey.


  3. karenlyonskalmenson permalink
    July 9, 2013 12:42 pm

    we are bears.
    we want out.
    in this concrete prison
    we cannot move about.
    we want to live
    in a sanctuary,
    as close to a natural
    bears life as it can
    so please free us from
    this manmade hell
    time is passing,
    and we are not well.



  4. narhvalur permalink
    July 9, 2013 2:29 pm

    Reblogged this on Ann Novek–With the Sky as the Ceiling and the Heart Outdoors.


  5. July 9, 2013 7:20 pm

    Reblogged this on Sherlockian's Blog.


  6. Dionne permalink
    July 11, 2013 12:55 am

    Email sent. Why can’t a petition be initiated to shut down the zoo? I feel it will reach out to more people & will make a far more stronger impact.


    • July 11, 2013 2:36 pm

      Thank you, Dionne. At this time there are no petitions that I am aware of; letters are generally better-received than petitions since they take more effort.


      • Karen Hambrock permalink
        July 20, 2016 2:15 pm

        There have been petitions for this on but did not get any attention. Lawsuit was filed but that did not get results. What can we really do for these poor abused animals? The owners don’t care as long as people are giving them money to see them! I can suggest everyone start posting everywhere about the Cherokee bears, tell friends everyone and encourage them to boycott Cherokee, NC. Put up posters, just get it out everywhere, if you can get it in the media that would be super! Put posters up in Cherokee, advertise this in Cherokee papers, people need to take action or this will continue and those people that own that shop and golf course could care less , DO NOT Pay to go there! Contact the Chief, it is my understanding he is friends with these people. Anyone with any ideas that want to get together and take action please contact me. I have been following this for a long time and I am so mad that nothing is getting done! Also the Cherokee Santas Land Zoo is just as bad, it needs to be closed down! The Cherokee should be ashamed of allowing this to happen!


  7. July 11, 2013 4:14 pm

    Reblogged this on florenceeaise.


  8. July 11, 2013 4:18 pm

    Email sent again with hope but I wouldn’t hold my breath those two are using these bears to make money bottomline they couldn’t care less about them! I also shared in several places too thanks Stacey! BTW I took my kitten to the vet at first they thought it may be ringworm but figured out she was losing hair from being washed in Dawn can you believe that! It cst me over $200.00 dollars to be told she has sensitive skin lmao im just so glad that all it was! Money well spent she is 4 weeks old now so im gonna try to give her some solids mixed with her formua do you have any tips to share Stacey? Id sure appreciate it!


    • July 11, 2013 4:42 pm

      How can people be so inconsiderate and inhumane? Isn’t it just common sense? Well, obviously not, those poor animals, always at the sake of greedy, inhumane humans. 😦 I am so relieved your little booger has a sensitivity rather than something drastically wrong, so that is good news, but it certainly was expensive good news. Try some gentle formula. Do you live near a Whole Foods? They have an inexpensive, cruelty-free formula that’s pretty gentle. Or even in the grocery store there are usually organic brands, but they can get pricey. As for food, mixing is a great way to wean, but baby food is another alternative, see if that helps at all. Since she is an orphan it will take a bit longer than if she had Mama there (well, you are her mama now!), or even making a paste out of the formula rather than a liquid. See if any of those help. Bless you, sweetie, for your unending compassion and heart! (Next the big decision: what to name him/her!!!)


      • July 12, 2013 2:13 pm

        Thanks for all the tips Stacey! I will try to find the organic formula I have two pet stores right near me so hopefully I can find it no problem im also going tp try to mix some of her formula with wet food to see if she will eat it as for a name lol its so hard to name something that hardly has a personality yet if I gave her a name now it would pprobably be Lump lmao Just Kidding I am trying to think of names for her though shes a little tuxedo cat! Im so glad shes doing better with little ones its a constant up and down roller coaster ride as you know! She has my heart now so I really don’t see me giving her up!


        • July 12, 2013 3:24 pm

          I LOVE tuxedos, there are two in my home. (I also love calicos. Well, actually I love them all!) I have a continual list that I add to whenever I think of hear or a name I like. Sometimes, like you wrote, it’s a matter of personality. It just comes out! Love what you do, keep up the terrific work, you are a true cat mom!


          • July 15, 2013 3:17 pm

            Thanks Stacey im like you I love them all lol ive never once in my life picked out a cat they all just seemed to find their way to me lol smart cats! Some have been left behind and abandoned some my daughters found and four are feral but have come an extremely long way with tons of wrk on my part I can pet and hold three of the four ferals and they even come in my house al,most everynight! I have a diluted calico, a british shorthair, a manx, a maine coon, two orange tabby’s one brown tabby and now a baby tuxedo so yes I guess I am a cat Mom lol


          • July 15, 2013 4:28 pm

            Wow, you really are a cat mom! Good for you! I am so proud of all you do and amazed at your compassion. I know what it is like to have tons of cats, lol. But we love them all, don’t we? It’s so hard not getting attached! Thank you for all you do, hon. And it is wonderful that three of the ferals will sit with you and let you pet them, that is truly amazing. Usually once feral, practically always feral. I have one feral who sleeps with me and sits on my lap and lets me pet her, but it took years for her to be completely comfortable and even now she runs and hides whenever someone comes over. But she has really come a long way since I fostered her as a starving, worm-ridden kitten! It really is a lot of work but so rewarding. Thanks for all you do, hon.


  9. Claire James permalink
    July 15, 2013 1:22 am

    Please please let these bears live out the rest if their years in a sanctuary. These poor souls are desperately unhappy all to make 1 man a little bit of cash! I don’t understand how people don’t realise animals feel pain and sadness! Help them!


  10. July 15, 2013 2:49 am

    Thank you for bringing this to public attention. It is truly inhumane and cruel treatment that these beautiful creatures are being subjected to. Let’s hope that with the response of locals and caring people worldwide letting these owners know how wrong this is the bears will be released to a sanctuary to be cared for properly.


    • July 15, 2013 11:01 am

      Another bear pit has recently been closed due to public outrage, hopefully this will have the same impact. Thank you for your comments, Stacy, I agree.


      • July 17, 2013 5:38 am

        That is such a great outcome. I will be following your blog and hopefully there will be good news for these bears soon 🙂


        • July 17, 2013 11:07 am

          They have already been successful in shutting down one, so maybe our efforts will be successful again! Thank you for the follow, nice to have you!


  11. ming sailo permalink
    July 15, 2013 7:54 am

    they belong in the wild, LET THEM GO!! SET THEM FREE!


  12. moira permalink
    July 15, 2013 2:44 pm

    in this modern country how are there such people in business .


    • July 15, 2013 4:23 pm

      Good question. Unfortunately I have no answer. People are just cruel.


  13. July 16, 2013 10:47 am

    Really sad and heartbreaking 😦 What is the purpose of keeping those beautiful creatures of mother Earth trapped and tormented? Are we humans really that close minded and spiritually undeveloped…I’m sending love and healing energy to those animals.


  14. Darrell Johnson permalink
    July 19, 2013 2:29 am

    Please help us… Please


  15. melanie leach permalink
    July 19, 2013 3:50 am

    copied an sent


  16. Kathy S permalink
    July 19, 2013 8:39 am

    I thought this was closed and bears are in sanctuary?


    • July 19, 2013 10:43 am

      One of the bear pits closed,this one is still open. There are actually a few left open, but they are part of a larger zoo; one has closed, this is still in operation.


  17. July 19, 2013 10:21 pm



  18. Mombaerts Nancy permalink
    July 20, 2013 11:08 am

    E-mail send


  19. Elizabeth R permalink
    July 28, 2013 5:52 pm

    I am devastated about this situation and I feel more can be done than to sign a petition. I am interested in getting “that more” done. I need some more information and I hope someone out there can help me.

    First, who posted this information/site to begin with? Do you live near the “zoo?” Has there ever been a live protest in front of the zoo? I would like to arrange one (or really several protests), but need assistance with finding people who might physically attend. I am willing to drive up from Georgia to NC to participate.

    How long have the bears been in captivity? How did the couple running the zoo get them? What charges were brought up against the zoo and who charged them? Is anyone (the people who charged them once before?) presently and actively trying to get them closed down and the bears freed?

    IS there are sanctuary already in place ready to take the bears if we can get them freed? I am in need of networking assistance. I am not working at the moment and am willing to put in a lot of time and effort to freeing these poor bears, but I cannot do it alone. I do not know what county or anything else about where the bears are. Is PETA involved or the SPCA? Is any rescue organization involved?

    If this is the second attempt at an appeal, what happened to the first one?
    I would greatly appreciate any help from anyone. I do not know why I have chosen this particular need to focus on but I just cannot bear (pardon the pun) to let those innocent bears continue to suffer.

    Elizabeth R


    • July 28, 2013 7:13 pm

      Hi, Elizabeth. Thank you for your comments and your efforts to further this cause. This alert was initially published by PETA so I would refer you to them:

      I would also refer you to local animal rescue groups to see if you can get support for a local protest:

      I know some of the other bears were already rescued and sent to sanctuary. PETA would have additional information regarding that.

      Sorry I could not be of more assistance, but if you find the information you are looking for and need exposure, I could publish an alert for you. You would just need to write it up with the relevant information.

      Thank you so much, Elizabeth.



    • Karen Hambrock permalink
      July 20, 2016 2:31 pm

      Elizabeth R I have been following this story for a long time, there have been petitions, lawsuits and protests, none have done any good so far. I am outraged over this and have contacted PETA and others, and have had contact with the Elders that filed lawsuit. They lost that one. The Cherokee Zoo, Santa’s Land is just as bad if not worse! I do not understand how these people get away with this and why people pay money to them to see these bears. I want to also do more! Contact me and we will come up with something!


  20. Vicki Ginoli permalink
    August 19, 2013 8:35 am

    This is so wrong on so many levels – please allow the bears to go to sanctuary!!


  21. J. Hammer permalink
    July 19, 2016 10:36 am

    Respectfully, this is a waste of time. It’s the CHAMBER of Commerce and other city officials who need to know that we are boycotting. Telling the vendor himself does not hurt the Cherokee. You have to hit them where they hurt.



  1. Petitioning Cherokee Bear Zoo owners Barry and Collette Coggins to Close Cruel Bear Pits | Sunset Daily

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