TV legend and former The Price Is Right emcee Bob Barker has sent an urgent letter to members of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Barker is urging officials to reverse a recent county ordinance amendment that makes it no longer illegal for Fayetteville-based Jambbas Ranch Tours to keep exotic and dangerous animals.
Currently, Jambbas confines a fox, a raccoon, an alligator, and a bear to small, barren enclosures that deprive the animals of everything that’s natural and important to them. The bear, Ben, shows telltale signs of extreme psychological distress—he constantly paces the small cage, paws at the ground, and bangs his head against the cage walls.
Before the amendment was adopted, the county ordinance had banned the keeping of exotic and dangerous animals within the county. Barker and PETA are calling on the commissioners to reverse the amendment, which was passed in haste at the request of the tawdry roadside zoo’s owner when he was faced with prosecution, and to enforce the original ordinance. This would allow for the fox, raccoon, and alligator to be relocated and for Ben the bear, who is being kept in solitary confinement, to finally be released to a sanctuary where he can receive expert care and live out his years in the company of other bears.
“I have just learned from my friends at PETA of a very sad situation in Fayetteville," wrote Bob Barker. "A bear named Ben is confined for “life,” such as it is, in a small chain-link and cement pen at Jambbas Ranch. As you know, there was an ordinance that made this old-fashioned, unenlightened confinement illegal in Cumberland County, and rightly so. The video footage of Ben is heartbreaking to anyone who cares about animals. I have watched it, and it shows him as he paces back and forth, back and forth, as if he is stuck in a groove. He bites at the fence and pushes against it with his head in the clear hope that he can find a way to break out of it, and he shows other obvious signs of stress and frustration at being treated in this miserable and unnatural way.
“Thankfully, a wonderful sanctuary in California that I am familiar with—and have visited personally—has agreed to receive Ben and give him the care that he needs and deserves, without any charge whatsoever. I hope that you will intervene and see to it that this happens.
“PETA has been trying since last August to get help for Ben the bear and for some other solitarily confined animals at Jambbas—including a raccoon, a fox, and an alligator who are also kept abysmally and who are prohibited by county ordinance from being held captive. Cumberland County Ordinance 3-12 was a straightforward and easily understood ordinance. It beats me how, rather than enforcing this humane provision, the board could listen to Jambbas’ owner and amended the ordinance to allow such inhumane treatment of animals to continue. I believe that you must not have been given all the facts or seen this situation for yourselves, as that does not seem right at all.
“Would you please act swiftly now to reverse the changes made to the county ordinance and see that Ben and the other unhappy, solitary animals at Jambbas go at the earliest possible time to a proper sanctuary where they can receive the professional care, veterinary attention, companionship of other animals, and basic respect that they should have?”
See video footage of Ben and photos of him and the other animals here.