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Alec Baldwin Demands U.S. Department of Agriculture Ban ‘Cruel’ Bear Pits

Actor and animal rights advocate Alec Baldwin wants the federal government to put an end to zoo exhibits that house bears in concrete cages.

The "30 Rock" star in a recent letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack wrote that so-called bear pits are an "archaic form of confinement" and that forcing them to live on concrete slabs is a "cruelty" that can cause arthritis, pressure sores and other debilitating diseases.

Bear pits are typically found in roadside zoos, which lure travelers with the chance to see animal attractions close up.

"People talk about the right to bear arms. After seeing this video, you might want to push for the right to arm bears," the outspoken Baldwin said in an accompanying video through the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which showed images of languishing bears.

In 2013, PETA supported a federal lawsuit filed by tribal elders with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who demanded the Cherokee Bear Zoo in North Carolina be shut down for allegedly violating the Endangered Species Act.

A judge eventually dismissed the case, ruling that while conditions were "not ideal," it also did not mean the bears were being harmed.

Summer Soiree With Alec Baldwin
Actor Alec Baldwin in Toronto, Canada, on June 14, 2016. GP Images / WireImage

Baldwin in his letter, however, wrote that the Cherokee Bear Zoo and others must be forced to end the bear pit practice because the creatures can suffer from "zoochosis," a term coined by the late actor and "Born Free" star Bill Travers to describe the neurotic behavior developed by animals in cages.

Baldwin asked Vilsack, who is also being discussed as a possible vice presidential pick for Hillary Clinton, to make more progress after appearing to crack down on a roadside zoo in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

"Despite promising action in its March 2016 response to PETA's petition, your office continues to allow the Cherokee Bear Zoo and other exhibitors to subject bears to an existence completely at odds with their natural disposition and with the Animal Welfare Act," Baldwin wrote.

The USDA did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, and a phone at the Cherokee Bear Zoo and Exotic Animals went unanswered Tuesday afternoon.