In a roadside zoo in Pennsylvania, four bears – Fifi, Bruno, Pocahontas and Marsha – were kept in cramped, dirty cages. They were taught to perform tricks for circus attendees and lived in shabby conditions.
In 1995, however, when the zoo was shut down because of violation of the Animal Welfare Act, the four bears were never allowed to leave their enclosures.
It’s been 20 years of limited living – with no place for hibernation – in cramped, unsatisfactory cages.
As shown in the video above, the bears – when discovered – were pacing restlessly, a sign physical and mental needs were not being met. In addition, Fifi suffered from severe arthritis.
But when advocates at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) received wind of this news, they worked tirelessly to give the bears a new lease on life. In 2015, after decades of deprivation, the elder bears were finally transported to a sanctuary with plenty of room to run.
A 24-hour trek brought them to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, where they will recover from their plight and learn how to be wild. You can see in the video above their reaction to the wide, open space.
At first, it seems like they can’t believe their eyes and aren’t sure what to make of the freedom.
“After more than 20 years in a cage, these bears are finally free to roam, forage, climb, den and bathe,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet in a release. “PETA has now rescued 41 bears from roadside zoos and backyards across the country—but this mission won’t be complete until bears are no longer sentenced to a sad life of deprivation in a tiny cage.”
The two 15-acre permanent habitats will allow all four bears ample room to climb, roam and bathe in pools. They’ll also be able to hibernate in underground dens.
Not only that, they’ll be treated with fresh fruit and much-needed medical care.
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