Sam Mazzola is known for his baby tiger photo booths
Wrestling bear no show at outdoor exposition
Caesar the Wrestling Bear and other exotic animals belonging to a northeast
U.S. Department of Agriculture permits required for exotic animal displays and the bear wrestling show were not in order, and there were also questions about city permits and liability insurance, said Chris Fassnacht, the annual exposition’s producer.
Sam Mazzola, owner of the bear and several other exotic animals, has been without a federal license to exhibit exotic animals since it was revoked in November.
Mazzola, who owns Animal Zone in
"We’ve never been found guilty of any crime whatsoever with the U.S. Department of Agriculture," Mazzola said. "We’ll be back. I’ll fight for my rights."
Fassnacht said Mazzola’s animals have been part of the Cleveland Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show for about 20 years. People pay for a chance to wrestle a black bear.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com
Meeting planned this morning on act Thursday, March 15, 2007 Molly Kavanaugh Plain Dealer Reporter
Caesar the Wrestling Bear and other animals belonging to Sam Mazzola had the day off Wednesday and maybe won’t be working all weekend.
"As of now, we’re not comfortable with what we see and it has been postponed until further notice," I-X President Bob Peterson said. Signs were posted at the I-X entrance to alert patrons that the animals would not be on display.
Peterson cited the fact that Mazzola’s license to exhibit exotic animals was canceled in November by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mazzola has a hearing in May regarding numerous complaints involving public and animal safety.
Mazzola, who lives in Columbia Station, said Tuesday that he is authorized to conduct business under a valid license held by his partner, Larry Wallach. USDA spokesman Darby Holladay said that the person holding the license must own and care for the animals.
Mazzola could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but he was defended by his attorney, John B. Frenden. "He is a honest businessman, who has a passion for animals," Frenden said.
A meeting is scheduled for this morning between Peterson and Wallach. Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, the public will not be allowed to wrestle the bear and will be photographed only with cubs, not full-grown animals, Peterson said. The wrestling will be limited to Wallach’s employees.
Chris Fassnacht, president of Expositions Inc., the show’s producer, said Mazzola and his animals have been part of his show for years. "Last year it was the biggest draw, by far," Fassnacht said.
USDA rips I-X bear wrestling
Owner’s ‘mere act of exhibiting is a violation’
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Plain Dealer Reporter
The 1,000-pound Caesar the Wrestling Bear is scheduled to fight today at the
Sam Mazzola’s license to exhibit exotic animals was canceled in November because he provided false information to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"His mere act of exhibiting is a violation," said Darby Holladay, a USDA spokesman.
Reached by telephone Tuesday, Mazzola said his exhibit is "perfectly legal." His partner, Larry Wallach, has a valid license that allows another person to be designated to operate the business.
The Cleveland Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show opens at noon today and a meeting will be held beforehand to determine if the exotic animal exhibit is a go, said International Exposition Center President Bob Peterson.
"It has to be in compliance with all federal, state and local laws," Peterson said.
The city is aware of the situation and would – if necessary – confiscate the animals, said Maureen Harper, spokeswoman for Mayor Frank Jackson. City officials still were working on arrangements for housing the bear and other exotic animals scheduled to appear at the show.
Chris Fassnacht, president of Expositions Inc., the show’s producer, said he has worked with Mazzola and Wallach for years and is not worried that the exhibit will be canceled. "It’s definitely a go," he said.
Publicity for the event says patrons who are at least 21 years old and wear headgear can wrestle Caesar, a 7-foot, half-ton bear.
Others can have their photograph taken with lions, tigers and Lakota the bear.
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:
Please write Molly and thank her for drawing attention to this abusive practice. The media can do so much to educate and stop these kinds of activities.
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