MEDIA RELEASE: Pressure Mounts To Free Rocky the Coyote

MEDIA RELEASE: Pressure Mounts To Free Rocky the Coyote

CHICAGO (Sept. 20, 2022) — On Monday, September 19, In Defense of Animals and Chicago Alliance for Animals held a day of action as pressure mounts on Cook County officials to release Rocky the suffering coyote from the River Trail Nature Center, after very alarming concerns were raised and documented by the public about his welfare. 

More than a dozen activists gathered at two locations: the River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook and the Forest Preserves of Cook County headquarters in River Forest. At the nature center, activists witnessed Rocky pacing in his cage, visibly agitated and looking for a way out. Rocky was found as a pup in Tennessee and transferred to Illinois, where he has been pacing in his very small cage for more than four years in Chicago's harsh winters and humid summers. He exhibits numerous signs of stress, such as pacing, biting and licking his paws, and scratching.

Advocates are urging Cook County Commissioners to allow Rocky to go to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, where he will have natural space to roam and the opportunity to interact with other coyotes, instead of using tax dollars to build him a bigger cage. Despite more than 100,000 people speaking out on Rocky’s behalf, including comedian Ricky Gervais, the decision was recently made to keep him there, which prompted activists to protest on Monday. 

“It’s completely unacceptable for progressive Cook County to keep a wild animal captive in such inhumane conditions,” said Brittany Michelson, Captive Animals Campaigner for In Defense of Animals. “Rocky the coyote continues to suffer at the River Trail Nature Center in the name of ‘education.’ There is nothing educational about observing an animal confined alone in a cage. He has exhibited numerous signs of stress including pacing, repeated biting, and excessive licking. Building him a bigger cage is not a viable solution to the problem. Rocky deserves to live at a wildlife sanctuary where he has space to roam, tunnels to dig in, and interaction with other coyotes.”



Demonstration + Rocky:

Video available upon request. 


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

Chicago Alliance for Animals, Jodie Wiederkehr,, 773-726-0589

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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