A zoo in Hangzhou, China, has refuted claims suggesting that one of its sun bears is actually a human in disguise. The controversy arose after a video of the bear standing on its hind legs and interacting with people at the zoo went viral on Chinese social media.
Many netizens cast doubts on the authenticity of the bear, with some speculating that its bipedal stance and wrinkled skin were indicative of it being a person wearing a costume. In response, Hangzhou Zoo took to their social media accounts to dismiss the rumors, emphasizing that the sun bears from Malaysia are smaller and have distinct characteristics, but are indeed real bears.
To further dispel the speculations, the zoo issued a statement written from the bear’s perspective, claiming that its critics simply didn’t understand it. The statement humorously described how the zoo director even questioned whether the bear had found a two-legged creature to replace itself. However, the bear reiterated that it is, in fact, a sun bear.
Sun bears are native to Southeast Asia and are recognized for a patch of orange or cream-colored fur on their chests, which contrasts with their predominantly black coat. They are relatively small, with a height of up to 1.3 meters (4 feet) when standing on their hind legs, in comparison to larger bear species like grizzlies that can reach up to 2.8 meters (9 feet). Sun bears are considered a vulnerable species due to deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.
While this particular case at Hangzhou Zoo has stirred suspicions, it is not the first time Chinese zoos have faced accusations of misrepresenting their animals. In the past, there have been instances of a dog posing as an “African lion” and a pool filled with penguin-shaped balloons.