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For Immediate Release: 10/06/09

Bear mauling renews call for ban on wild animals as pets

PA woman mauled to death by "Pet" black bear

Ross Township, PA — Born Free USA, a leading national wildlife advocacy organization, is calling on Pennsylvania legislators to immediately ban the ownership of dangerous wild animals after a 37-year-old woman was killed by a black bear kept as a pet in Ross Township. According to media reports, the woman was killed while cleaning the bear’s 12x12 foot cage. The bear was shot to death by a neighbor.

“The private ownership of dangerous wild animals obviously presents a real danger,” said Nicole G. Paquette, Born Free USA senior vice president and general counsel. “This incident is a tragedy that should never have occurred in the first place, and it’s time for Pennsylvania legislators to act with due speed to ensure that it never happens again.”

Pennsylvania currently allows individuals to possess bears and other exotic wildlife as long as they hold a permit from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

This is not the first incident in the state. In 2006, a woman was mauled to death by her pet wolf hybrid after she entered its cage. Other recent incidents involving bears kept in private hands include a South Carolina woman hospitalized in with severe injuries after a pet bear attack, an Oregon woman hospitalized after being attacked by a black bear she was attempting to feed, and an Ohio woman attacked after a neighbor’s pet bear escaped and then entered her home — resulting in a bruised lung, broken rib, and lacerations. For a complete list of reported incidents involving dangerous wild animals, click here.

“Keeping bears as pets is dangerous business. We’re not talking about Yogi bear or Smokey the bear — we’re talking about wild animals who belong in the wild,” added Paquette. “How many fatalities have to happen before legislators and the Game Commission act to protect the public rather than the interests of a small group of individuals? There must be some accountability.”

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Born Free USA is a leading national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the U.S. and globally, including operation of the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, which provides sanctuary to primates formerly kept as pets in private homes. Born Free USA is a leader in exotic animal legislation in the United States.

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