This summer, PETA's life-sized mechanical bear has a message for tourists, courtesy of Triple 9 and Manchester by the Sea star Casey Affleck: Stay away from tourist traps that display bears in barren pits and tiny pens.
PETA is taking Bernard on a nationwide tour, making stops in towns near bear pits and roadside zoos — starting with Clarks Trading Post in Lincoln, New Hampshire, near Affleck’s Boston hometown. Bernard talks and stands on his hind legs as he shares his experience of being trapped in a concrete pit, begging for food from tourists and breaking his teeth on metal cage bars, concluding, “Please remember my story and tell everyone you know never to go to roadside zoos.”
“Bears belong with their families in nature, not on display in sad, filthy concrete pits,” says Affleck. “PETA’s remarkable animatronic bear will do wonders this summer to show kids and their parents why everyone should stay away from these cruel tourist traps.”
PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” — will also take Bernard the bear near Three Bears General Store in Tennessee and Cherokee Bear Zoo in North Carolina, among other facilities.
More than 1,000 bears are held in inadequate conditions in nearly 300 roadside zoos, bear pits, and other outfits across the country. While bears in the wild have home ranges of up to hundreds of miles, captive bears are routinely confined to cramped and barren concrete pits or dog kennel–sized cages, leading to psychological distress, arthritis, pressure sores, and other painful, debilitating conditions. Since 2012, PETA has rescued more than 40 captive bears and transferred them to accredited sanctuaries.