Animal activists file lawsuit on behalf of Tregembo bears

MONKEY JUNCTION — A lawsuit filed against Tregembo Animal Park alleges the New Hanover County roadside zoo’s is mistreating Ben — a black bear, and Booger — a Syrian bear, in violation of North Carolina’s anti-cruelty statute

Caroline Byrd and Lorraine Moe, both of New Hanover County, seek to have both bears moved to an animal sanctuary.

“North Carolina law requires that captive animals be free from unjustifiable pain and suffering, which, for bears, includes access to space to roam and the ability to engage in natural types of behavior, such as foraging, climbing, nesting, exploring, denning, and digging—none of which Ben and Booger can do at Tregembo Animal Park,” states a news release announcing the lawsuit from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

According to the complaint, bears need at least an acre to roam and Ben and Booger are confined to enclosures that are 18-by-18 feet and 18-by-26 feet. PETA compares the enclosures to, “the functional equivalent of forcing a human to live in a small closet.”

The lawsuit points out that neither bear has sufficient relief from public harassment or the summer heat and that Ben is suffering from severe facial lesions and his nose is eroded and raw.

“Booger paces repeatedly — a symptom of mental anguish caused by deprivation and distress — and the park has failed to provide Ben with appropriate veterinary care for severe facial lesions that have left him with scarring on both corneas, causing visual impairment.,” according to the release.

Byrd and Moe are asking a judge to to terminate Tregembo Animal Park’s ownership rights; prevent them from ever obtaining another bear and pay for the animals’ future costs.

The filing cites a permanent injunction granted in 2012 by a Cumberland County judge against Jambbas Ranch in Fayetteville. In that case a black bear – also named Ben – was kept in a 12-by-20 foot concrete-and-chain link cage.

“Tregembo Animal Park is inflicting unjustifiable physical pain and psychological torment on sensitive bears,” Brittany Peet, PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, said in the release. “PETA joins concerned North Carolinians in urging the facility to move these poor animals to a reputable sanctuary where they’d receive the care they desperately need.”


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