Cherokee Bear Zoo has been fined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violating worker safety regulations.
Cherokee Bear Zoo was cited for allowing workers to have “unprotected contact with bears while feeding, cleaning cages and assisting in mating activities,” according to OSHA documents. In addition to receiving five citations, Cherokee Bear Zoo was fined $3,120.
A site visit from federal OSHA investigators last fall was prompted by a complaint from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA filed an OSHA complaint last summer that included video footage and photographs of workers inside concrete pits with multiple bears. In its complain, PETA suggested it would file legal action against OSHA if OSHA did not conduct a site inspection.
PETA has campaigned for years against the roadside bear zoos in Cherokee. One of the two zoos that kept bears in concrete pits, Chief Saunooke Bear Pit, finally closed last year after repeated federal violation notices for the treatment and care of the animals.
Cherokee Bear Zoo workers apparently went into bear pits to feed them by hand, and in one case to lure a male bear to a female bear enclosure, without protection or barriers between them and the animals. Violations also included the use of bleach cleaning chemicals without proper eye protection.