Chinese Zoo Bear Stands and Waves at People, Is it a Man in a Bear Suit?

In a viral video that took the internet by storm, a bear at the Hangzhou Zoo in China was captured standing on its hind legs, causing speculation that it might actually be a human in a clever disguise. Hangzhou Zoo officials swiftly denied the allegations, emphasizing that the bear in question, named Angela, is indeed a Malaysian sun bear. Despite their denial, the controversy surrounding the bear’s peculiar behavior has attracted a surge of visitors eager to witness the phenomenon for themselves.

The Bear that Stood like a Human

The video of Angela the sun bear standing upright quickly gained traction on social media platforms, capturing the attention of millions of intrigued viewers. Some skeptics were convinced that the bear’s slender legs and folds of fur resembled those of a person wearing a bear costume. However, Hangzhou Zoo officials were quick to dispel these rumors, asserting that the sun bear’s appearance is unique and distinct from other bear species.

Debunking the Human Disguise Theory

The Hangzhou Daily, a local newspaper, highlighted the controversy by questioning whether the standing bears at the zoo were actually “humans in disguise.” This prompted the zookeepers to further explain the characteristics of the sun bear that differentiate it from other bears and humans. The Malaysian sun bear, known for its small size, stands at around 50 inches tall when on its hind legs, in stark contrast to larger bear species like the grizzly bear, which can reach heights of up to 9 feet. Zoo officials also emphasized the practicality of the situation, stating that the extreme summer temperatures in China would make it unbearable for a person to wear a bear costume for an extended period.

“If a person did wear a bear costume, they would be lying down within minutes due to the heat,” a spokesman for the zoo clarified.

The Rise in Zoo Visitors

The viral video not only sparked a debate online but also led to a significant increase in the number of visitors to the Hangzhou Zoo. Tourists flocked to the zoo in hopes of catching a glimpse of the standing bear phenomenon firsthand. According to Chao News, visitor numbers surged by approximately 30% since the video surfaced. One visitor, Mr. You, expressed his curiosity, stating, “After seeing this bear standing up on the internet, I wanted to see how it looks in real life, so I came here.”

Exploring the Sun Bear Species

The sun bear, scientifically known as Helarctos malayanus, is the smallest bear species in the world. Native to Southeast Asia, these bears have a distinct appearance and a unique set of characteristics. They measure around 3½ to 4½ feet in length and can weigh up to 145 pounds. The loose folds of skin observed on sun bears, such as Angela, are not indicative of a human disguise but rather serve as a defense mechanism against potential predators. Alongside their sharp claws and teeth, the sun bear can turn in its loose skin and bite its attacker, providing it with a means of protection.

“The loose skin is one way the sun bear protects itself against predators,” explained the San Diego Zoo.

Addressing the Controversies

Chinese zoos have faced scrutiny in the past for misrepresenting their animals. Some notorious incidents include dyeing dogs to resemble wolves or African cats and painting donkeys to imitate zebras. These controversies have fueled skepticism among the public and media, leading to questioning of the authenticity of the standing bear at Hangzhou Zoo. However, the zoo remains steadfast in its assurance that Angela is indeed a genuine sun bear.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look

To put an end to the speculation surrounding the standing bear, Hangzhou Zoo has made arrangements for journalists and media outlets to observe and confirm the true nature of the animal. Chinese media will have the opportunity to closely examine the bear and document their findings. This transparent approach aims to dispel any lingering doubts and reaffirm the zoo’s commitment to animal welfare and authenticity.

Conservation Status and Threats

While the controversy surrounding Angela the sun bear may have brought attention to the species, it is important to recognize the conservation status and threats faced by sun bears in the wild. Sun bears are currently listed as a “threatened” species due to habitat loss, deforestation, and illegal wildlife trade. Organizations like the San Diego Zoo are actively involved in conservation efforts to protect and preserve these unique bears and their natural habitats.


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