Wild animal exhibits such as “A Grizzly Experience,” scheduled to appear at this year’s Montgomery County Fair, are inhumane for the animals, unnecessary and unsafe for all involved.
The bears in these types of exhibits spend many months each year on the road, hauled in small trailers to fairs, sports shows and similar venues. Once at their destinations, they are forced to perform before crowds in often sweltering summer temperatures.
Watching bears guzzle soft drinks or eat marshmallows off sticks teaches children nothing about the natural behaviors of bears who, in the wild, spend their time foraging for food, digging, climbing, fishing and splashing in rivers.
The owner of “A Grizzly Experience” has been [written up] numerous times by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Among the [findings] are the escape of a bear who was on the loose for three days, housing three bears in a travel trailer as their primary enclosure, failure to provide barriers to keep people from having access to the bears and failure to provide adequate cooling to a bear cub during extreme summer heat and humidity.
We urge fairgoers to realize that public safety risks and inferior animal welfare are the cost of supporting these types of exhibits. We hope the Montgomery County Fair will take into account the safety and well-being of fairgoers and bears and pull the plug on this outdated act. Montgomery County residents — and the bears — deserve better.
Tami Santelli, Bethesda
The writer is the Maryland state director of The Humane Society of the United States.