MEDIA RELEASE: Coyote Missing: Justice For Rocky Campaign Intensifies

MEDIA RELEASE: Coyote Missing: Justice For Rocky Campaign Intensifies

NORTHBROOK, Ill. (March 16, 2023)In Defense of Animals and Chicago Alliance for Animals are calling for answers after Rocky the coyote disappeared from his cage at the River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook. The organizations, which have been campaigning for more than a year to see him moved to a sanctuary, have been joined by thousands of people who are concerned about his safety and well-being and are intensifying their call to send him to a sanctuary.

Animal activists have been speaking for and urging that Rocky, a highly social pack animal, be transferred to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado. Rocky was found as a pup in Tennessee and socialized like a dog, who he was mistaken for. He has been stuck alone for nearly five years in a tiny, barren cage with only an empty plastic doghouse devoid of straw or bedding for shelter. 

“A couple of regular visitors to the River Trail Nature Center reported Rocky was howling very loudly last week. Alarmed by his unusual behavior, they returned to visit him again last Sunday, only to find an empty cage. This obviously has us very worried,” expressed Jodie Wiederkehr, Executive Director of the Chicago Alliance for Animals (CAA). “One of the Forest Preserves' main excuses why they won't release Rocky to sanctuary is concerns that moving him would somehow be detrimental to him, yet now they have moved him. It is extremely concerning that officials won't disclose his whereabouts.”

The Wild Animal Sanctuary has offered a forever home for Rocky. There, coyote experts would slowly and carefully introduce him to another coyote, giving him the option to socialize, plus underground dens to burrow in for protection, as well as room to roam and run instead of pace, as he does at the nature center.

“We have been told that Rocky was moved to another location, so that construction on his cage expansion can take place. However, no construction has begun. The construction should have been underway immediately in order to minimize Rocky’s stress, as he undoubtedly was scared and confused by the sudden change,” said Brittany Michelson, Captive Animals Campaigner at In Defense of Animals. “We are calling on Cook County to revise its decision and send Rocky to The Wild Animal Sanctuary at no cost to taxpayers, instead of spending the time and money to expand his cage, when expansion is not a solution to the problem.”

Chicago Alliance for Animals and In Defense of Animals’ campaign to free Rocky has won widespread support, including an endorsement from celebrity Ricky Gervais.

In June, In Defense of Animals launched an action alert calling for Rocky’s relocation to sanctuary which garnered over 24,000 supporters. However, at the end of July the county announced its decision to keep him at the River Trail Nature Center. The county claimed it would expand Rocky’s cage in 2022, yet the misguided physical expansion still hasn’t happened.

After Cook County announced it would keep Rocky at the nature center, but enlarge his cage, over 14,000 In Defense of Animals supporters renewed their call to send him to sanctuary. Advocates maintain that even with an enlarged cage, Rocky will continue to suffer from stress and deprivation related to confinement and isolation, with no connection to members of his own species. A larger cage is not the solution to the problem.

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All documentation, photos and information available upon request.




Demonstration + Rocky: https://bit.lyRockyDemos


Jodie Wiederkehr, Executive Director, Chicago Alliance for Animals (CAA), 773-726-0589,

Brittany Michelson, Captive Animals Campaigner, In Defense of Animals, 928-420-0727,


In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin County, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.

Chicago Alliance for Animals (CAA) is a mostly volunteer, grassroots organization that banned horse carriages in Chicago in 2020, shut down Chicago's puppy mill stores in 2021 and so much more. CAA started the Free Rocky and Free Spur campaigns.


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