After a 2,500-Mile Trek, Four Bears Leave Their Zoo Days Behind

A San Diego–based animal advocacy group rescued the former North Carolina roadside attractions.

(Photo: Mark Newman/Getty Images)

May 28, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

After spending most of their lives as roadside attractions, four bears will be getting a taste of freedom at a San Diego wildlife preserve.

Last week Lions, Tigers & Bears, an exotic animal sanctuary in San Diego County, rescued two grizzly bears and two Himalayan black bears from North Carolina. The grizzlies, named Albert and Cherry Bomb, were born and raised at the Cherokee Bear Park, which has been known to use its animals as petting props. The black bears, named Teddy and Baloo, were bred in captivity at Tote-Em-In-Zoo and dwelled in poor living conditions. A couple bought the bears at an auction and kept them in a residential backyard. When the owners could no longer care for the animals, they contacted LTB.

“We’re lucky these bears are out of the pits and coming home with us,” Bobbi Brink wrote on LTB’s blog. “It is nearly impossible to find captive bears homes in reputable facilities.”

After giving the bears medical exams—vets found that all four were declawed by their former handlers and one suffers nerve damage in its shoulder due to confinement as a cub—LTB left North Carolina for California with the furry group. According to LTB, its state-of-the-art truck has been making frequent stops for food and water.

“Fellow travelers definitely enjoy seeing them, learning their story and ways they can help us stop the exotic animal trade,” Brink said.

Grizzly bears have no natural enemies, but they’re considered endangered in the U.S. owing to habitat loss and poaching. Himalayan black bears are native to Asia, and hunters seek them for their gall bladder, paws, and skin. Logging and human settlement have decimated a large portion of their natural habitat as well.

As for Albert, Cherry Bomb, Teddy, and Baloo, their cramped, caged days will soon be over. The bears are expected to arrive at their permanent home at the LTB sanctuary today.