Pender County bears move to California sanctuary - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Pender County bears move to California sanctuary

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Albert is fed apples as he waits to get on road for California (Source: WECT) Albert is fed apples as he waits to get on road for California (Source: WECT)
Officials say Baloo (left) and Teddy (right) love each other. They reached into each other's cages. (Source: WECT) Officials say Baloo (left) and Teddy (right) love each other. They reached into each other's cages. (Source: WECT)
Baloo was showing off in his cage, practicing hand stands for the camera. (Source: WECT) Baloo was showing off in his cage, practicing hand stands for the camera. (Source: WECT)

Four bears that have been living in a Pender County backyard will now be moving to California. The owners of the two black bears and two grizzly bears can no longer care for them at their Shiloh Road home so the bears will be going to live out the rest of their lives at a sanctuary in California.

The non-profit group Lions, Tigers, and Bears came Thursday to get the animals ready for their new home. The San Diego nonprofit offers a safe haven for abused and abandoned exotic animals.

While the four Pender bears seemed healthy, the nonprofit's director Bonni Brink, said before they came to the Pender backyard they were not treated well.

The two Silvertip Grizzlies, named Albert and Cherry Bomb, were born in captivity at the Cherokee Bear Park. Brink claimed the park has deplorable conditions. She said the bears are kept in concrete pits and their food comes from above. She said Albert will suffer from medical conditions for the rest of his life because of how he was treated as a cub at the park.

"Albert was taken from the mom and then put on roadside exhibits so he was carted all along, he wasn't properly fed, he's got some major problems with his hip and he walks with a limp," Brink said. "He has had an MRI done but we are going to do a basic medical exam tomorrow, we'll take him home and do more studies to see if we can help, but most likely he will walk with that limp for his life for not being fed properly as a baby," she continued.

Two Himalayan Black Bears, named Teddy and Baloo, were also bred for profit according to Brink. She said they also were toted along on a roadside zoo until they came to the Pender County backyard. Brink claimed many roadside zoos use baby cubs to make money, specifically breeding them so people can take photos with them. But Brink argues, in many cases the animals are "discarded" when they grow up.

"They are bred for nothing more than profit, nothing more than to use as a prop to have your photo taken with.  Once there is no money to be made if they can't find a home they will kill the bear or they will sell the bear for their body parts they will be sold off at an auction or go to a game hunt ranch," said Brink.

Brink said all of the bears will get a medical exam Friday morning before leaving Saturday for California. She expects the trip to take four days and said they will stop along the way to feed and give the bears water. She said at their sanctuary each bear has their own "bedroom" they also have four acres of wild land to roam.

In addition to helping provide a safe haven for animals in need, Brink said her organization is also pushing for stricter regulations for owning an exotic pet. Brink says right now there is no federal system in place to regulate the ownership of exotic animals.

For more visit www.LionsTigersAndBears.org.

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