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Cherokee Bear Zoo lawsuit to receive further review

The Cherokee Bear Zoo on April 14, 2016. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of two elders of the Eastern band of Cherokee Indians who had sued the Cherokee Bear Zoo.

They had sued the zoo on grounds that its grizzly bear pit enclosures violate the Endangered Species Act's prohibition against harassing protected animals.

The Fourth Circuit Court overturned the lower court's decision and sent it back for further review.

The Coalition for the Cherokee Bears released the following statement after the ruling:

"This ruling is a win for the four grizzly bears kept in the archaic and virtually barren concrete pits at the Cherokee Bear Zoo and for the Endangered Species Act, which provides vital protection for these threatened animals held in captivity. These grizzly bears should be exploring a vast, natural, habitat at a reputable wildlife sanctuary and not begging for food from tourists from their pits. The Fourth Circuit's ruling brings them one step closer to this goal."

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