"Ben the Bear"
will stay at PAWS!
The decision was handed down this morning: "Ben the Bear" will not be returned to North Carolina, and will stay at his new home at ARK 2000 rather than return to Cumberland County. The Fayetteville Observer reported that "both sides of the legal fight about Ben's ownership agreed Monday, August 27, to keep him at the sanctuary where he was moved earlier this month."
Ben now lives in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary where he has a 2-acre habitat with trees, grass and a pool.
|Ben the Bear at PAWS|
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"Bear Force One" flies Ben to PAWS
After a long and hard-fought battle by PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and concerned citizens, "Ben the Bear" has been rescued from a North Carolina roadside zoo and will now live out his life at PAWS.
Before his relocation, Ben spent six years at Jambbas Ranch in Cumberland County, North Carolina. His world consisted of a 12- by 22-foot concrete floor and a chain-link fence. He was given an old bowling ball and some moldy stumps of wood for enrichment. He was fed dry dog food, which his "caretakers" dumped onto the concrete. His interaction with others was limited to being gawked at by visitors and an occasional piece of bread tossed to him by a tourist.
Ben spent his waking hours pacing, a result of profound deprivation and a sign of chronic distress. Two concerned citizens saw him and agreed to take action. With the help of PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, they filed a cruelty-to-animals lawsuit. PAWS offered Ben sanctuary if the lawsuit was successful.
Ben's case was heard by Cumberland County Court District Judge Kimbrell Tucker, who saw that the evidence was clear: Ben's needs were "not being met dietarily, veterinarily, and, most importantly, environmentally." The judge stated that Ben's enclosure did "not meet the . . . for this bear's health and well-being." She issued a preliminary injunction earlier this month that allowed PETA to transfer Ben to PAWS pending her final ruling in the case which would come on August 27.
As soon as the preliminary injunction was issued, we shipped our bear transport cage to North Carolina. Ed Stewart arrived at Jambbas Ranch on August 9 to load the bear. After Ben was loaded, Ed and his team headed for the airport. Ben arrived at PAWS on August 10.
After hearing the story, FedEx immediately agreed to fly Ben across the country for free. His safety and comfort were essential. He traveled in climate-controlled transport trucks to and from the airport and was accompanied by his transport team (PAWS' co-founder/director Ed Stewart, veterinarian Mel Richardson, and PETA attorney Carney Anne Chester) throughout the trip. The flight crew cheerfully dubbed their mission "Bear Force One."
When Ben explored his vast new home in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat for the first time, he pawed at and smelled the ground, likely the first time he had ever felt grass beneath his feet. Within minutes, he was already bathing and splashing in his pool. PAWS co-founder and director Pat Derby reports that Ben was in his pool at least 5 times the first day. That night, he slept soundly on a comfortable bed of fresh hay and natural foliage. Within the first week, Ben would meet his neighbors, black bears Samson and Cinnamon.
Today, the court ruled in Ben's favor, and thanks to the judge and all those who worked hard to make it happen, PAWS is now Ben's permanent home.