The Hangzhou zoo in eastern China has faced allegations of using humans in bear costumes instead of real bears. The speculation arose after video footage of one of the zoo’s bears went viral online, with many people finding it hard to believe that it was a real animal.
In the video, a sun bear named Angela could be seen standing on its hind legs, waving to visitors and attempting to catch the food that was being thrown to it. The bear’s slender legs, folds of fur, and unusual proportions led many users to suspect that a human was actually playing the part of the bear.
In response to these claims, the zoo’s management released a statement denying the use of human impostors. They emphasized that the bear featured in the video is a Malayan sun bear and is definitely a real animal. They also pointed out that the region experiences extremely hot summers, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. They argued that a person wearing a bear costume would not be able to withstand such conditions for more than a few minutes before collapsing.
To further address the suspicions, the zoo’s official Weibo account shared a link to a statement from Angela the Sun Bear herself. In the statement, Angela sarcastically responded to the allegations, mentioning that she had received a call from the director asking if she had hired a two-legged beast to replace her. She reiterated that she is indeed a sun bear and not a black bear or a dog.
Malayan bears, native to the tropical forests of southeast Asia, are known to be the smallest bears in the world, roughly the size of large dogs. They have distinct proportions, including a stocky build, large paws, a short snout, inward-turned front feet, and a flattened chest. Their fur is also the shortest among all bear species, giving them a silky and fine appearance.
The Hangzhou Zoo’s management has taken the accusations seriously and plans to invite reporters to inspect the bear up close. In the past, smaller zoos in other parts of China have been caught trying to deceive visitors by passing off dogs as lions and substituting penguins with inflatable imitations.
Overall, the Hangzhou zoo has vehemently denied using humans in bear costumes and insists that the bear in the video is Angela, a real Malayan sun bear. The management is taking steps to clear the air and address the skepticism surrounding the footage.