1,000-pound bear exploited by California governor candidate for publicity


Screengrab from Cox Tuesday campaign event

A California candidate for governor is exploiting a bear named Tag for publicity. John Cox previously lost his bid for governor in 2018 and is now using roadside zoo animals to try to win candidacy.

Cox campaign advertisement

Tag is a 1,000-pound 7-foot tall Kodiak bear owned by Steve Martin of Working Wildlife, Frazier Park, CA. Martin rents out animals to be used in movies and other publicity stunts.


Martin has received numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act for the treatment of his entertainment animals. He is accused of dumping his animals on other roadside zoos when he’s done exploiting them.


The USDA has cited Martin for keeping his chimpanzees and orangutans locked in “night housing” up to 18 hours a day, Newsweek reported. He has also been cited for having cages in such disrepair that they were hazardous to animal safety, for failing to provide veterinary care for animals and failing to provide proper food and shelter to animals.


Tag was used in a commercial by Cox and was trucked more than five hours to be featured in a press event in Sacramento yesterday. When he’s not being exploited, he’s locked in a trailer when on the road. Tag is expected to make another appearance with Cox.


Cox also featured a macaw parrot in one of his campaign ads with the bear. PETA issued a statement about the publicity stunt, saying “Bears need to be left alone to live a bear life, not confined to a pen on asphalt and wheeled out for events—and PETA urges anyone with an ounce of decency to keep dangerous wild animals out of their publicity stunts.”