Four grizzly bears have paced their tiny concrete pits at North Carolina’s Cherokee Bear Zoo so much they’ve worn down their claws and cracked their paw pads. The bears — Lucky, Layla, Marge and Elvis — may soon have a chance to move to a bear sanctuary, thanks to a recent court win by two Cherokee tribal elders.
The bears, now in their 20s, have spent almost all their lives in the grim subterranean concrete pits, not seeing much of nature from their prison at a roadside attraction in downtown Cherokee, across the street from a Burger King. They have never been able to hunt, forage, run, den or even hibernate in the winter. Their diet is mainly bread, apples and pet food pellets. The concrete rooms are sprayed regularly with strong-smelling cleaners.