Our Water Nerds have been closely following the environmental and public health disaster in North Carolina for a while now. Recently, Chemours, the company responsible for distributing a form of PFAS called GenX into the Cape Fear River, settled with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality in the form of civil penalties and investigative costs. We broke down the news and what it means so you don’t have to. We’re also including a link below to Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s breakdown of the settlement.
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CFPUA settlement breakdown: https://www.cfpua.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=964
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Ben the Bear arrived at PAWS in August 2012. Rescued from a roadside zoo in North Carolina, this video, from August 2019, shows Ben in his habitat at PAWS’ ARK 2000 sanctuary in Northern California. Thanks to generous friends who went shopping on PAWS’ Amazon Wish List https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1ESCX3EWD5MQZ?ref_=wl_share, he now has a big, new, bright red, heavy-duty Boomer Ball to play with!
THE STORY OF BEN THE BEAR
Ben, a hybrid black bear, arrived at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) 2,300-acre ARK 2000 sanctuary in August 2012. He is the only one of our bears who can claim to have been transported to PAWS via “Bear Force One,” courtesy of FedEx.
Ben came from Jambbas Ranch Tours in North Carolina. Identified only as “Attraction no. 2”, for six years he was confined in a 12×22-foot chain link “kennel” with only a concrete floor to walk on – just so tourists could gawk at him and toss him food. Bears are intelligent, curious and active animals, yet Ben was unable to do anything that wild bears naturally do, such as climb, forage or explore. His only source of enrichment was an old bowling ball and a few decrepit stumps of wood. Ben spent his time repetitively pacing in his cage – a sign of chronic stress and boredom.
Fortunately, two local citizens and attorneys from PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund came to Ben’s aid. In 2012, they filed suit against the facility holding Ben. The facility already had numerous citations for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Cumberland County District Judge Kimbrell Tucker heard the case and wisely recognized that Ben’s most basic needs were not being met. The judge issued a preliminary injunction that allowed Ben’s transfer to PAWS and later made it permanent. (Jambbas Ranch Tours shut down after additional legal action resulted in suspension of its exhibition license.)
Upon hearing Ben’s story, FedEx agreed to fly him to California, dubbing the plane “Bear Force One.” When Ben was released into his new sanctuary home, it was likely the first time he had ever felt grass beneath his feet.
Today, Ben explores a spacious enclosure in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat at ARK 2000 where space is measured in acres, not feet. He enjoys searching for favorite foods that his caretakers hide for him, including watermelon, apples and berries. His enclosure is filled with shady trees, natural vegetation, grass, and a pool that Ben loves to swim in year round. Sadly, Ben had been declawed, so it is harder for him to engage in certain bear behaviors, such as tearing apart logs to root out insects. Nevertheless, he is an easy-going and responsive bear who has grown confident in his surroundings.
Ben’s story is a reminder of the other bears who still suffer in horrible conditions in roadside zoos and attractions and those used for entertainment, including at county and state fairs. These bears are bred and used for display, public feeding, photo opportunities and petting sessions – all for profit. They are traumatically separated from their mothers and exposed to rough handling and abuse; some bears are cruelly declawed, causing intense pain and preventing them from engaging in natural behaviors such as digging, manipulating food and climbing. When the bears are no longer profitable they are discarded, sent from one miserable place to another. Some bears are slaughtered for their meat.
What you can do to help bears in captivity?
• Never visit a roadside zoo or attraction that confines bears. Urge family, friends and colleagues to avoid these places as well.
• If your local fair features captive bear shows, voice your concerns to the fair organizers. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, educating people about the suffering of bears for these shows and calling for an end to them.
• If you see bears in conditions that are causing them to suffer, file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Document what you see on video and/or photos. (For assistance contact PAWS director of science, research and advocacy, Catherine Doyle, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
• Avoid pseudo-sanctuaries that offer public contact or photo sessions with bears or any other wild animals.
cumberland county legal aidTags: Chemours, Know, Lawsuit, Million, NEED