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Michigan governor approves bear cub petting zoo bill that allows people to interact with live bearsMichigan governor approves bear cub petting zoo bill that allows people to interact with live bears

Michigan Governor Approves 'Bear Cub Petting Zoo' Bill

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Michigan will soon allow people to interact with live bear cubs. This week, the state’s Gov. Rick Snyder approved a “bear cub petting zoo” bill, the Huffington Post reports.

Originally called the Large Carnivore Act – it is now dubbed the “bear cub petting zoo bill” – Michigan will allow its residents and visitors to hold, feed and take photos with bears that are up to 36 weeks old and weigh up to 90 pounds.

Animal activists, veterinary experts and citizens are expressing extreme concern over the bill arguing it is neither safe for humans or for the bear cubs.

“The practice of handling and using bear cubs for photo opportunities and interactions with the public seriously compromises animal welfare and threatens public safety,” the Humane Society said in a November 2013 report debating the Large Carnivore Act. “It is stressful for bear cubs to be prematurely removed from the nurturing care of their mothers – a common practice to facilitate public handling. During photo and play sessions with the public, the cubs may also be exposed to abusive and excessive handling.”

Previously, the Large Carnivore Act prohibited human contact with any large carnivore. What changed Snyder’s mind?

“Oswald’s Bear Ranch [a former bear petting establishment] is an important piece of the Upper Peninsula culture,” Snyder said in a statement Tuesday. “The Oswalds play an important role in raising rescued cubs to adulthood, as well as providing the public with education about black bears.”

According to Oswald’s Bear Ranch owner, Dean Oswald, he believes no harm will come from the bill’s passing and is great for tourism. He said, “A bear is no different than taking in a young dog. Be with it every day, treat it right, and you’ll have the same outcome. A zoo will tell you different, but they’re full of [expletive].”

Here’s some footage from Oswald’s Bear Ranch showing citizens picking up, holding and playing with bear cubs.

What do you think of the new bill?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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  • suzannecarlson

    “Yay” – more ways to exploit and harm animals in Michigan! Let’s have a free for all with these young, vulnerable cubs. Instead of being with their mothers, they are ripped away – even though they are not weaned – and forced into close contact with humans. Making this legal is mind-boggling. Animals need to be protected, not manhandled! For shame, for shame, for shame to those who voted yes to this and to anyone who supports this cruelty by participating.


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