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Free Cokie part 3 - March for Cokie's Freedom

February 19, 2005
Terri Francis

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Thousands marched on Mall today to plead for Cokie's release. Under a near cloudless sky, thousands of people assembled at the Lincoln Memorial February 19 to protest the kidnapping and imprisonment of Cokie, the beloved Polar Bear.

Groups of marchers representing civil rights for stuffed animals, environmental protection, and wildlife advocacy came from all corners of the globe, including the Arctic, to bring worldwide attention to the plight of Cokie. Bearing signs, banners, and picnic baskets, the crowd converged on the nation's capitol to urge congressional leaders to lend their support in freeing Cokie. Among the marchers, which included bears, squirrels, meerkats, humans, and other stuffed delegates, the group Ursus Amnesty was by far the most vocal and vociferous in demanding Cokie's release. Kola, Cokie's brother and spokesman for Ursus Amnesty, said in an interview with Tim Russert, "This is about finding and freeing my sister, but there's a message here for bears all over the world to remember ... any day, at any time, bears are being plucked out of their natural habitat, enslaved, and forced to perform tasks and tricks that are demeaning, unnatural, and quite frankly embarrassing. Cokie's ordeal may change the course of history and help shape the civil and human rights movement around the world." When asked if marching up the Capitol steps with a sign in his hand was "unnatural" for a polar bear, Kola replied with a mournful growl, "I just want my sister to come home."

The precise date when Cokie disappeared is not known, but she was last seen in her Barrington, NJ, home on or about 15 December 2004. It is also not clear who would have abducted Cokie, or what motive was behind the bearnapping, but authorities have said off the record that there is at least one credible suspect. Last week an 80-year old woman in New Jersey was questioned, but the official word is that she is "person of interest" who may have information about the case.

In coordination with the Saturday march, a sit-in was staged at the Jefferson Memorial, and Cokie's relatives met with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to be apprised of recent turns in the diplomatic efforts currently underway. Petitions were presented to Congress and the President to initiate sanctions against any and all governments complicit in Cokie's kidnapping.

In the meantime, bears, small furry critters, and humans have come together to rally for Cokie's freedom. Aside from a few minor scuffles among polar bears, and despite the discordant assemblage, the demonstration proved peaceful and no animals or humans were eaten.

To be continued...