Zoo-Goers Say That Sun Bear Is Actually Human In Bear Costume
Sun bears are something of a nature prank, really. You see, they've got the look of a bear, but their behavior is sometimes similar to that of humans. It's quite a sight, and when you lay eyes on them, it's impossible not to laugh. These bears are so much like us that recently, some people at a Chinese zoo mistook these bears for humans dressed as bears. This is going to be a funny story, and we're excited to share it with you. I hope it brings a good laugh to you!
Confusion began in late July when a video popped up on Weibo, a Chinese social media site, featuring a sun bear named Angela. In the video, Angela was seen standing on her hind legs on a rock in her zoo enclosure, showcasing impeccable posture.
Some Weibo users started questioning the authenticity of the bear, suggesting that the zoo might be using a dog instead. After all, sun bears can grow to the size of a large dog, approximately four and a half feet long and weighing up to 145 pounds. This suspicion was not entirely baseless, as a zoo in Henan Province had previously faced accusations of substituting its lion with a Tibetan mastiff in 2013.
Others took a more imaginative route, proposing that the zoo had placed a human inside a bear suit. They pointed to the bear's posture, loose skin, and fur as evidence. Some joked that being the bear was perhaps a summer job, while another commented on how the folds in the bear's fur resembled a costume. (Experts explained that sun bears have loose skin to help them escape predators.)
Interestingly, these theories may not have been entirely untrue. In Sichuan Province's panda reserve, keepers sometimes wear panda costumes to minimize stress and prevent human attachment issues among the pandas. However, these costumes have often frightened people. Some zoos even use employees in costumes for animal training.
Not all Weibo users were doubters, though. Some blamed tourists, suggesting that overfeeding by visitors had led Angela to adopt an upright stance as she begged for more food. Over the weekend, the controversy grew in popularity, becoming a trending topic on Weibo. After that, viral videos of a Japanese man dressed as a dog posted on YouTube likely contributed to the debate.
Employees at the Hangzhou Zoo, accused of harboring a human in a sun bear disguise, felt compelled to respond. On July 29, an unnamed worker defended both the bear and the zoo in an interview that circulated on social media. He insistently said, "Of course it's a real animal, it's definitely not a person in disguise. Our place is a state-run facility; such situations won't happen here."
The worker followed up with a somewhat unconventional defense, claiming that bear suits were too hot for summer wear, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). He stated, "If you were to wear a suit, you definitely couldn't bear it for more than a few minutes; you'd have to lie down." Whether he was speaking from personal experience remained a mystery. His explanation failed to satisfy all doubters, so the zoo had to release a statement on Sunday, delivered in the voice of "Angela the Malayan sun bear."
The statement proved that Angela was actually a bear, not a person pretending to be one. It responded to claims that she looked similar to a human while standing and clarified that she was a Malayan sun bear, not a black bear or a dog.
The statement also explained that not all bears are massive and dangerous, despite being part of the "family of fierce beasts." Charles Robbins, director of research at the Washington State University Bear Center, supported the theory that Angela was standing to beg for food, as she had likely been rewarded by onlookers for doing so. Robbins noted that bears, including grizzly bears, sometimes stand and walk on their hind legs.
The Hangzhou Zoo did not appear to be in a hurry to put the bear controversy to rest. Following the viral videos, visitor numbers soared, with over 20,000 tourists visiting the zoo on a single Saturday, roughly 30 percent above the daily average, according to a zoo director's statement to Chao News, a Zhejiang-based newspaper.
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