The Suarez Brothers Circus has been the subject of intense scrutiny by
animal protectionists because of its maltreatment of seven, beleaguered
polar bears (dubbed the "Suarez Seven") whom it parades throughout Central
and South America as its main attraction (see Issue 162).
Because of its inhumane treatment of the bears – including alleged
beatings and unrelenting exposure to sweltering tropical heat— the
circus is currently being tried in Puerto Rican court on animal cruelty
charges, after which it is hoped that the bears will be confiscated and
transferred to a more humane, approved facility. However, the Suarez Bros
Circus, undoubtedly hoping to evade this action, has applied for
authorization from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to export the
bears from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, to the Caribbean island of St.
Martin. Once the bears are outside U.S. territory, the chances of their
rescue will be almost nil.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Contact the FWS before March 15, 2002, and demand that the agency refuse
to authorize re-export of the Suarez polar bears. Aside from the obvious
animal cruelty issues, the USFWS has several other reasons to deny the
permit application: The Suarez Bros. Circus has apparently supplied a
fraudulent CITES permit for at least one polar bear, and it has never
complied with the educational component that federal law requires of
animal exhibitors who wish to keep protected marine mammal species in
Send your letters to:
Chief, Permits Division
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Division of Management Authority
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22203
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