Michigan Zoos: Bear Bill is Dangerous

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Officials at some Michigan zoos say a bill that would allow people to touch and pose for photos with bear cubs would put people and animals in danger.
Michigan's Association of Zoos & Aquariums accredited institutions met Thursday to oppose the bill that would free up facilities to allow public contact with bears under 9 months old or weighing no more than 90 pounds. The institutions include Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek and Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak.
The group says scratches and bites from the "unpredictable" animals can cause injury, disease or death.
Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan says bears, "at whatever age and size, are dangerous."
The Senate approved the bill this month. It is now in the House for consideration.


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  • by Beth Location: Lansing on Feb 27, 2013 at 02:32 AM
    I agree with Else, these animals are taken from their mothers and used for entertainment by people only concerned with the profit. I would never support Oswalds or anyone else who uses animals they supposedly care about so much. Once these animals have been handled and exposed to humans, they cannot be released into the wild. Does Oswalds have an unlimited amount of money to care for these animals after they outgrow the 90lb limit?
  • by Kelly Location: Coleman on Feb 25, 2013 at 08:23 AM
    Else Poulsen you worked with bears for 25 yrs ,and out of the 25yrs how many people where hurt by the bears? I truely doubt that Oswalds would just kill his pets!Its possible at other facilities who dont care as much as him would possibly kill the bears. To the people who are worried about getting scratch or possibly bit really need to look at dogs. People get bit by dogs more every year than by a cub or bear. Dont get me wrong i care for the saftey of bears and for the public! Pass the bill and move on so this man who is taking care of these bears can get on with his life..Leave the Ranch alone and find something else to complain about!
  • by randy Location: homer on Feb 23, 2013 at 04:53 PM
    I have been to Oswalds Bear Ranch, the Detroit Zoo and Binder Park Zoo. Of the three facilities only Oswalds is a place where you can see animals living in a natural environment and not pacing uncomfortably. I look forward to visiting Oswalds again and hopefully being able to interact with the bear cubs. I visited Spikehorns Bear Den as a child over 55 years ago and it was a memory that is only exceeded by a visit to the Oswalds. My mother as a child saw Spikehorn walking with his bear in Petosky Michigan. I encourage the Michigan Hose to pass the bear petting provision and once again let people interact with the bear cubs and make life lasting memories. I further encourage others to contact their representative and ask foe their support the bear bill.
  • by Else Poulsen Location: Ontario on Feb 23, 2013 at 12:06 PM
    I too have been to Oswald's Bear Ranch and I have worked with captive bears for over 25 years around the world. What you have to ask yourself is where have all of those bear cubs gone that have greeted you in the cub corral at Oswald's every year? Most likely those cubs that cannot be sold by the fall are killed and then the females are rebred year after year, because that is what happens at other road side zoo businesses. There is no difference between this and a puppy mill. Why are those cubs not with their mother? Because they were removed from their mother before the period of natural dispersion and are there being held in extremely stressful circumstances for your entertainment! Listen carefully to what accredited zoos are telling you... there is a reason why zoos must be accredited, its to protect society and animals from welfare issues such as the indiscriminate breeding of animals for human use, that are then surplused i.e. sold or killed. Personally I don't care if you get hurt or not by petting a bear cub - its the bear cubs' well being that concerns me.
  • by Kelly Location: Coleman on Feb 23, 2013 at 09:52 AM
    For the past couple years ive been going to the U.P on vacations and the one thing that keeps me wanting to go back again and again is Oswalds! The first time i went there i couldnt believe how nice these bears have it! Its a sanctuary for these bears and a safe place for them to live out thier lives on the ranch. One of the oppertunities i had when i was there was to feed the cubs,get my pic taken with them and also to touch them, I had no idea how soft the fur was. At first i was a litte scared,but seeing this man and also his family working with the bears i thought WOW! Ive never seen anybody get that close then I realized that they were harmless! Do you really think that this man would put his family let alone his guests in harmsway?! For those of you that havent gone to the ranch to witness this amazing encounter and oppurtunity for yourself. I highly recomend that everyone tries it once before you go waisting your time on a man who is only living out his dream like he has been for the past 15 YEARS! NOT to mention saving these bears lives! You people have nothing better to do than complain.
  • by Debbie Location: Kalamazoo on Feb 23, 2013 at 08:39 AM
    We have been to Oswald's for several years in a row now after we found this hidden treasure. It's my favorite thing to do each summer. The bears are well cared for and I have always felt very safe with the young cubs. Oswald's should continue to have the opportunity to share this experience with everyone - all of it, allowing us to continue to hand feed and be close to the cubs as well as to experience all of the bears in their natural environments. It's such a shame that they have to fight for the right to continue to offer something people drive all the way to Newberry to experience.
  • by Judy Location: Sunfield on Feb 23, 2013 at 05:18 AM
    My husband and I visited Oswald's a couple of years ago and got to participate in the bear cub petting. At no time did either of us feel unsafe with the cub. Oswald's is well run and should be allowed to have people pet & get pictures with the cubs.
  • by Shirl Herzog Location: Byron, Mich on Feb 22, 2013 at 10:10 PM
    What is scary are the big zoos trying to put this little place out of business. Especially with no knowledge of this place. They rescue abandoned cubs and raise them. They do not release them back into the wild. They keep them for life. They are around humans from the time they are little. The DO NOT abuse them. The tiny amount they charge to have your picture taken with a cub goes back into helping feed and care for them. Check your facts before you just assume the big zoos are telling the truth. They would do it in a heartbeat if they were given the chance. I've been here and will go back. Which is more than I can say for either of the two zoos.
  • by Kathy Location: Illinois on Feb 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM
    Having my picture taken while feeding a bear cub was one of the MOST SPECIAL things I have ever done in my life! It was not dangerous. There was supervision. Let people enjoy nature.
  • by Jon Location: Clarkston on Feb 22, 2013 at 08:13 PM
    Please disregard my previous post. I misunderstood the bill. Instead...: Seriously? There are people, including Govenor Snyder, who are actually wanting to stop people from petting young cubs at a family owned bear ranch? Sounds like a political agenda to cater to the over-priced zoo's in Detroit and Battle Creek. This is about people wanting control and the ability to micro-manage others. Oswald's Bear Ranch has the ideal habitat for the bears. Large acres of forests with streams, waterfalls, trees to climb, etc... What do the zoo's have? Perhaps a ten foot by ten foot cage for a lion to sleep, eat and walk around in? Let the families pet the cubs and get their pictures taken with the cubs. Oswald's has over 15 years of success, allowing families to participate at an affordable price, unlike the Detroit Zoo which is way over-priced.
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