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Rescued black bear from Ohio at Kendalia sanctuary

Ohio enacts strict laws after 2011 exotic pet massacre

KENDALIA, Texas - At the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabiliation Sanctuary, a nine-year-old black bear named Preston finally will have what he never had living in a cramped cage where he spent most of his life in Ohio.

Bobbi Brink, the founder of the California-based rescue group, Lions, Tigers and Bears, said at last he will have “a proper pool, proper diet, proper medical care.”

“He’s finally going to get to stand up and be on dry ground,” Brink said.

She said the bear that arrived Friday was among eight others given up by private owners in Ohio.

Brink said she is delivering those bears who were living in similar conditions, to sanctuaries in South Dakota and Colorado.

Bill Wilkerson, the executive director of the sanctuary in Kendalia, said Ohio enacted its first law governing exotic pet ownership after the 2011 massacre in Zanesville, that was triggered after an owner set free the wild animals he’d been keeping in captivity.

First responders and even animal rescuers were forced to shoot many of them as they wandered the streets.

Wilkerson said as a result, many now are changing their attitudes about keeping a wild animal as a pet.

“Private ownership of a wild animal is not good for people and it’s certainly not good for the animal,” Wilkerson said.

Brink said Ohio’s strict new legislation will take effect on January 1, so more owners are relinquishing their animals.

Wilkerson said the new bear will have two acres on which to roam and three other bears to keep him company.

He said Preston’s new environment is “something he was denied in his previous existence.”

Wilkerson said, “Now he’ll just be able to be a bear. To us that’s our biggest hope and that’s always our biggest success.”

Brink said there less than a handful of sanctuaries that can take in big cats  and bears, accredited by the Global Federal Association of Sanctuaries.

Brink said, “We need the public’s help to help these animals.”

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.


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