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PETA takes aim at local business

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MYAKKA CITY, FL (WWSB) - PETA is lashing out at Myakka City's Bearadise Ranch, alleging the bears they house are mistreated.

Bearadise Ranch, owned and operated by the Welde family since 1926, trains bears for movies, commercials, advertisements, and their own Welde bear shows. When the bears are not working on a project they live at the ranch.

PETA claims that the Welde family is mistreating the bears in their facility by confining them to cramped transit cages and forcing them to perform tricks across the country.

The animal activist group is encouraging business not to visit Bearadise Ranch in protest. According to PETA Brookdale Senior living in Bradenton, has done exactly that.

"PETA encourages retirement communities, schools, and others to follow Brookdale's example of compassion and steer clear of Bearadise Ranch or any other roadside zoo that displays wild animals for profit," says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet.

The owner of the ranch, Monica Welde, is firing back at the allegations and sharing her side of the story.

"While PETA paints a frightening, emotional picture, the truth is that while animal activist organizations such as their's claim to 'care' about animals, it does not mean they are experts in animal care and husbandry," says Welde.

She continues by saying PETA is well known for misleading the public by posting emotionally charged and inaccurate information.

"PETA is notorious for misleading the general public by posting emotionally charged, false and inaccurate information pertaining to legal animal-related businesses, which is in our view, nothing more than a fundraising tactic for this radical animal rights group."

According to Welde, Bearadise Ranch has an excellent reputation and is a legal business operation which meets regular inspection standards. The bears are seen by licensed veterinarians and the facility is subject to unannounced inspections by both federal and state agencies such as USDA and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Welde told ABC 7 that any false, defamatory, libelous or slanderous statements made about Bearadise Ranch that damage the reputation of their legal business may prompt pursuit of any or all available, legal remedies in the courts.