Chinese Zoo: This Is a Real Sun Bear, Not a Costume

Sun, moon, grizzly, black, spectacled, sloth: Bears everywhere in the world can stand, shuffle, totter and stroll on two legs, although they normally choose 4.

They don’t — strictly talking — speak.

But a zoo in Hangzhou, China, determined that the easiest way to clear up a conspiracy concept about one among its bears was to launch a assertion within the bear’s voice.

The confusion appeared to start in late July, when a video surfaced on the Chinese social media website Weibo of a solar bear named Angela standing on a rock in its zoo enclosure, with ramrod posture on its hind legs.

Some Weibo customers started to solid doubt on the ursine fact of the bear. Some accused the zoo of utilizing a canine impostor — solar bears can develop to the proportions of a massive canine, about 4 and a half toes lengthy and as much as 145 kilos.

The declare has some precedent: In 2013, a zoo in Henan Province was accused of changing its lion with a Tibetan mastiff.

Other Weibo customers had a extra unique clarification: They stated the zoo had caught a human in a bear go well with, with the posture, unfastened pores and skin and fur giving it away.

One commenter joked that being the bear was most likely somebody’s summer season job, whereas one other stated that the distinguished folds on the bear’s fur regarded an excessive amount of like these of a costume. (Experts say solar bears have unfastened pores and skin that helps them wriggle away from predators).

Those customers, joking or not, might have additionally had trigger for suspicion. At a panda reserve in Sichuan Province, keepers sometimes wear panda costumes to restrict the animals’ stress and their issues of human attachment.

However the costumes might seem to the pandas, the saggy masks and black-and-white, zip-up jumpsuits have repeatedly disturbed people through the years. Some zoos additionally use costumed employees to run animal escape drills.

Not all Weibo customers doubted the bear’s authenticity: A lot of commenters pinned the blame on vacationers, who they stated had most likely overfed the bear, main Angela to develop a behavior of standing upright to beg for extra. Over the weekend, as the controversy intensified, it grew to become a trending subject on Weibo. (Possibly including to the fervor this week have been viral movies of a Japanese man wearing a real looking canine costume underneath the YouTube handle @I_want_to_be_an_animal.)

Employees on the Hangzhou zoo, accused of harboring a human in solar bear disguise, felt compelled to reply. On July 29, an unnamed employee defended the bear and the zoo to a Chinese information outlet in an interview that circulated on social media.

“Of course it’s a real animal, it’s definitely not a person in disguise,” he stated. “Our place is a state-run facility, such situations won’t happen here.”

The employee supplied an uncommon follow-up protection, arguing that bear fits are just too sizzling to put on in the summertime, when temperatures attain 40 levels Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit. “If you were to wear a suit, you definitely couldn’t bear it for more than a few minutes,” he stated. “You’d have to lie down.”

Was he talking from private expertise? He didn’t say. His clarification didn’t fulfill all of the doubters, so the zoo adopted up with a assertion on Sunday written within the voice of “Angela the Malayan sun bear.”

The assertion insisted that the bear was actually a bear, versus a individual pretending to be a bear — or a individual pretending to be a bear insisting they weren’t a individual pretending to be a bear.

“Yesterday after work, I received a call from the park manager asking me if I was slacking off and had a biped replace me,” the assertion stated, “Much to my surprise, I’m just sitting in the mountains and I go viral on the internet. Some people think I look too human when I stand up. It seems you really don’t understand me. Previously, some visitors even thought I was too petite to be a bear! I want to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A Malayan sun bear!”

The assertion went on to clarify that not all bears are “massive and dangerous,” even when they’re a “family of fierce beasts.”

Charles Robbins, director of analysis on the Washington State University Bear Center, agreed with the speculation that the bear was begging for meals.

“Looks like a sun bear to me,” Dr. Robbins stated on Tuesday. “Presumably, the bear has been rewarded with food by the crowd for standing, so it learned very quickly to do just that.”

It’s commonplace for bears to depend on their hind legs, he added. “I have a grizzly bear that will stand and walk two-legged.”

The Hangzhou Zoo is probably not in a hurry to place the bear controversy to mattress. In the times following the movies, visits soared. A director of the zoo told Chao News, a Zhejiang-based newspaper, that over 20,000 vacationers visited the zoo on Saturday, roughly 30 % greater than the every day common.

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