The Department of Agriculture believes the public shouldn't be allowed to freely mingle with wild animals. That's why exotic animal exhibiters must have special federal permits.
The owner of "Caesar" the wrestling bear, Sam Mazzzola, lost his federal license to exhibit exotic animals last November. The U.S.D.A. says that he provided false information.
Wednesday morning, the management of the Cleveland I-X Center ordered that the big bear's trailer be towed out of the facility. Without the proper permit, the early wrestling shows had to be cancelled.
"Yes, it is popular with a lot of people, said Eric German, I-X Center Vice President. "But we can't let it go on unless it's in full compliance".
Employees at the huge facility put up black drapes around the stage to prevent visitors at the Cleveland Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show from seeing the wrestling cage.
"Caesar's" owner, Sam Mazzola was fighting mad at the U.S.D.A. and the Cleveland Animal Protective League. He blamed their investigators for stopping the show.
Mazzola told Channel 3's Mike O'Mara, "they think they have a badge and they think they can push people around. APL investigator Jedman Yanno is nothing. When I get done with the APL, they won't be able to confiscate a dog in this city."
Many of the visitors at the Outdoor Show came to see the big bear wrestle volunteers. Some were clearly upset that the shows were cancelled.
"I was kind of looking forward to seeing the bear wrestling," said Art Mirto. "And now I am disappointed because they're not going to have it."
Shirley Albaugh was sitting in the next row. "I think it's all a lot of good fun," added Albaugh. "I think the bear is taken good care of. So let it wrestle!"
Cleveland Law Director, Robert Triozzi, said that the city had no choice but to enforce the law against the exhibition.
Said Triozzi,"you're sending humans into live contact with a deadly animal. And logic says there has to be some regulation."
This year, you can pet the small animals at the Cleveland Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show. You can get up close and personal with many of the farm critters and the fish on display.
But the you won't be touching an 800 pound bear named "Caesar".