Jozankei Bear Farm
Suspected of Violations of Animal Welfare and Management
Act. ALIVE Requested Sapporo City to Make Inspection and
June 2011, ALIVE received a letter informing us about the
bears at Jozankei Bear Farm in Hokkaido. The letter explained
the horrible situation of the bears at the farm. After conducting
our own inspection survey of the site and gathered information,
ALIVE sent a letter of request to Sapporo City on August
17, urging that improvements be made at the bear farm facility.
We asked the city to oversee and direct the farm to change
the current situation.
Jozankei Bear Farm: Requesting Sapporo City to Issue
Warning for Improvement and Conduct
August 17, 2011
To: Mayor of Sapporo, Fumio Ueda
Jurisdiction Department: Public Health and Social Welfare,
Animal Management Center
NPO All Life in Viable Environment
ALIVE and its predecessor organization have long been dedicated
to improving the care and management of bears at bear farms
in Japan. We have been working with WSPA since 1991 and
during that time we have conducted numerous surveys of bear
farms in Japan and sent request letters to municipal governments
and bear farms requesting that improvements be made in the
treatment of bears.
Currently there are 8 bear farms in Japan of which four
are located in Hokkaido. Jozankei Bear Farm is one of these
facilities and it is notorious for its maltreatment of bears,
including in respect of its disregard for the health of
its bears, its neglect of hygiene, and its decrepit facilities.
In the past, ALIVE held a series of talks with the owners
of this farm, at which time we were given to understand
that Jozankei Bear Farm was scheduled to stop exhibiting
bears in 2004.
In May 2011, ALIVE received a letter informing
us of the horrendous situation that presently exists at
Jozankei Bear Farm. In June, we performed a site inspection,
as a result of which we are now sending you this letter
of request to improve the situation of the farm.
1. Need Order from the City to Improve the Treatment
Currently 13 bears are cramped into two different
concrete pits. Almost all the bears exhibit stereotypic
behavior and some of them have become very aggressive. A
few bears have injuries or wounds and it has been confirmed
that these are the result of physical attacks or fighting.
The facility’s hygiene is extremely poor. Garbage
is left unclean on the floor and the bones of bears that
have been dead for ages are left as they are. We believe
that the bones came from at least 3 different individuals.
No efforts are made for environment enrichment of the bears.
We urge the City of Sapporo to talk with the
bear farm management about moving some of the bears to their
1st farm, which currently is empty. This would reduce the
population density of each pit and would help prevent unnecessary
reproduction. Please tell the farm management that they
need to improve the hygiene, treatment and management of
The owner and management of the farm told
us that the bears there are too old to reproduce. This is
incorrect. The brown bears at the farm can still reproduce.
(The reproductive life of this species is between 4 and
28 years old.) The farm has never identified the gender
of the bears, therefore males and females are put into the
same pit. It is quite possible that they have given birth
and that the cubs have been eaten by other grown bears.)
2.Provide Guidance on Proper Feeding and Watering
We did not have an opportunity to meet the
animal care management staff, so we sent questions by letter.
The response we received said that they feed the bears bread,
bean curd and convenience store food leftovers. These are
not foods that bears would eat in the wild and such a diet
can cause the bears health problems. Please tell the farm
management to feed the bears fresh vegetables and to pay
proper attention to providing the appropriate nutrition
that bears need.
There was no water trays placed in the pits. A caretaker
waters the trays with a hose and that is how they provide
water to the bears. However, as you can imagine, the amount
of water is not enough. There was a water fountain but the
water in it was contaminated with the bears’ excrement
and urine. We confirmed that the bears are drinking the
The welfare and wellbeing of the bears are totally ignored.
These animals are suffering from infectious diseases, parasites,
skin diseases and internal diseases. It is necessary to
change the water and provide fresh clean water every day,
at least once a day. Please inform the farm management and
the care management authority at the farm about how they
can improve the situation by giving very clear instructions
and showing them good examples.
3.Violation of Article 28 (Permission for Change)
In 2009, 26 bears were kept at Jozankei Bear Farm. In 2011,
the number went down to 13. However, the farm has not received
permission for the change in number. This is a violation
of Article 28 of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals.
This shows that the authority of Jozankai Bear Farm is either
ignorant of the requirements of the law or else has intentionally
ignored their responsibility. In either case, they are in
violation of the Act and should be punished according to
We ask the City of Sapporo to firmly inform the farm about
the violations and tell them that they need to notify the
Prefectural Government about any changes they have made
within 30 days.
4. Municipal Government Inspection and Supervision
Corrupt animal handling businesses such as
Jozankei Bear Farm should always be under the rigid supervision
of the municipal animal administration. Article 20 of the
Ordinance for Enforcement of the Act on Welfare and Management
of Animals requires regular inspection of specified animal
facilities to be conducted. Jozankei Bear Farm has been
talked about as a problematic facility for a long time.
Accordingly the municipal animal administration should have
conducted inspections more often and more promptly. The
City should oversee the facility to make sure that the necessary
improvements to its management are made.
In the course of inspections, naturally, the safety of the
facility should be closely checked. Moreover it is vitally
important to ensure the welfare of the bears in question.
So please be sure to check that proper treatment of the
bears is being carried out according to their natural habits
Lastly, it is difficult for the municipal animal administration
staff to be fully knowledgeable about science or veterinary
science, so a bear expert should accompany the administration
staff on their inspections. A system for such inspections
should be designed and implemented.
5.Consider Life Span of Brown Bears, Keep Good Data
and Make it Available to Public
Some bears live long lives. Therefore it is important to
have a good database that identifies individual beard and
the facilities where they are kept. Such a database should
be kept for a long period. In the case of Jozankei Bear
Farm, no improvements have been made to the facilities for
a long time, although numerous problems have been identified
with them. Accordingly, it is very important to keep detailed
information about complaints and how the municipal office
dealt with the problems. This data should also be available
to the public. An effective database would be helpful when
a situation that requires a subjective judgment from an
6.Identify Individual Bears
The bears at Jozankei are not identified with a tag or microchip
etc. There is a letter issued by a veterinarian to verify
the farm has been exempted from the Microchip ID requirement.
Even the farm caretaker, who has taken care of the bears
for a long time, cannot identify an individual bear by just
looking. This is a really serious problem. We urge the City
to direct the farm to carry out logical measures for identifying
individual bears including the implementation of a photo
or microchip ID system.
7.Take Appropriate Measures in the
Event of Violations of Specified Animal Notification Requirements
You can walk into Jozankei Bear Farm very
easily. In fact, there are several entrances that are unguarded,
yet there are no warning signs about bears being kept and
no discussions about how to prevent outsiders from intruding.
This is a violation of Paragraph 2, Article. 3, Methods
for the Care and Keeping of Specified Animals. In the past,
there was an incident in which an intruder threw in a chair
and a brick in the bear area.
This demonstrates the farm’s sense of responsibility
is greatly lacking. There is no caretaker who is regularly
on duty at the farm. This also shows that the proper operation
of the farm is neglected.
We urge the City to direct the farm to implement measures,
such as displaying signs and information about the specified
animal facility, in order to ensure the safety of people
8.Neglect of Municipal Animal Administration
The role of municipal animal administration is to educate
people about the proper handling and care of animals. However
the municipal animal administration has not worked hard
enough to improve the management at Jozankai Bear Farm.
This constitutes a case of operational and management neglect
on the part of the administration. The City of Sapporo should
be cognizant that the relevant animal treatment and management
legislation has not been enforced as it should be in the
case of this specified animal facility and that the City
now needs to supervise questionable facilities much more
closely than ever before.
The treatment of bears at Jozankei Bear Farm, which totally
out of keeping with the natural habits, behavior and needs
of brown bears, is a clear case of animal neglect. The current
law does not define “neglect” clearly, so it
is difficult to identify and prove neglect in a legal sense.
The Ministry of the Environment has been holding continuous
discussions on revising the Animal Welfare Act and the definition
of “neglect” will be one of the most important
topics in the amendment plan.
The maltreatment of brown bears at Jozankei
Bear Farm is an issue that demands immediate attention.
The situation requires the implementation of effective measures
that should improve the hygiene, treatment and care of the
bears and the current management system. We urge the City
to implement such measures with immediate effect.
We understand that there are countless other issues that
the City needs to deal with. However, we would greatly appreciate
it if you could favor us with your response by the end of
Thank you very much for your consideration.