Captive Bears ‘Retire’ to Colorado

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DYBERRY TOWNSHIP -- Several old bears that used to live in cages in Wayne County have found somewhat of a retirement home out west.

The animals are far better off now than they were when they lived on a defunct roadside zoo, according to animal rights group PETA.

There are a few animals left at the property near Honesdale. Far fewer than how many lived there back when it was a zoo in 1990s with lions, tigers, and bears.

The bears are gone now. After decades living in rusty cages at Andy Burr's Big Bear Farm in Wayne County, a wildlife sanctuary in Colorado took them in last month as they near the end of their lives.

"They’re very happy and I’m happy that they are in a better environment than they were in previously," said Francene Vendetti.

Vendetti runs Ponderosa Pines Campground across from Burr's former zoo. When the zoo's owners decided to sell and move south, Vendetti said it made sense for the old bears to go.

"They were well taken care of, very well fed, loved, but they’re wild animals and were in cages, that’s hard to look at," she added.

The Big Bear Farm was closed back in the mid 1990s. Ever since then a lot of the animals have stayed on Andy Burr's farm. Over those years, some animals have escaped and had to be reined back in, but now those bears are in Colorado.

"It was sad to think about chain link fences around bears," said neighbor Susan Lockwood.

Neighbors have known about the bears for years. The animals were even trained to perform circus tricks. Now folks are happy to see there's a new home for Fifi, Bruno, Pocahontas, and Marsha.

"I just think they didn’t have the resources to put them in the kinds of environments they would thrive in," said Lockwood.

"It's a nice happy ending for them," added Vendetti.

The owners said they paid for permits to have the bears over the years and were searching for someone to take them in for about a half a year before all four moved to Colorado.


  • J. Hoffa

    How many bears were there?? One part of the story says several and another part says four. Of course PETA had to chime in, but as a hunter I don’t agree with keeping animals in cages. Undomesticated animals belong in the woods or in their native habitat.

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