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02nd Aug 2023

‘Human bear’ at Chinese zoo is seen waving in new video

Steve Hopkins

Hangzhou Zoo in China has been forced to issue a statement denying the claims

A new video has emerged of the bear at the centre of claims she in fact a person in a costume, and it is doing nothing to quell the suggestion that it might be true.

In recent days the social media claims surrounding the Chinese sun bear at Hangzhou Zoo in China have gained so much momentum that the zoo has been forced to deny them, and explain that the species is small, and looks different, to other bears.

In a social media post – written from the bear’s perspective, which in no way helps change the narrative, – begins, “Some people think I stand like a person. It seems you don’t understand me very well.”

Suspicions were aroused by the way the bear, a four-year-old Malayan bear named Angela, stood on its hind legs, and also the baggy skin around her hips – that looked like ill-fitting trousers.

Now, a new video has shown the zoo’s star attraction appearing to wave at spectators, as they call out to it, saying “hello.”

One Twitter user claimed: “No cuz that’s literally a human.”

Another added: “Those are definitely human gestures,” wrote a third while a fourth declared: “Its a dude inna suit….. not real. Bears cant stand up for that long. Definitely not in place like that.”

However, as fun as the story is, animal experts have rubbished claims that it could be true.

Dr Ashleigh Marshall, an expert from Chester Zoo, told the BBC that the animal “is definitely a real bear”.

She explained that the folds on its back, assumed to be evidence of an ill-fitting costume, help protect the bear from predators, as the looseness allows it to “turn around in their skin” and fight back if grabbed.

Nevertheless, the amusing controversy isn’t hurting the zoo. It seen a 30 per cent jump in visitors.

Qian Ming, one of 20,000 a day now making the pilgrimage, told local TV he had travelled 150 miles by train, from Suzhou, to see the bear. “We travelled overnight last night to get here,” he said.

The zoo has tried to educate those doubting the bear’s credentials.

“When it comes to bears, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge figure and astonishing power.

“But not all bears are behemoths and danger personified.”

A spokesperson from the zoo has also dismissed the claims, with MailOnline quoting them as saying: “If you get someone to wear such thick fur in this summer heat, they won’t last more than a few minutes before they need to lie down.

“We are a government-operated zoo. There will never be situations like that.”

Temperatures in the region can reach as high as 40C (104F) in summer.

The zoo said Angela, who has become a social media sensation, is “dating” a male bear named Dalu but “wants to take things slow”.

Sun bears have distinct features, such as a short, sleek black coat, a pale yellowish crescent on their chests (which gives them their name), and a light-colored muzzle.

They are also known as honey bears – due to their love of honey – and dog-faced bears, for their dog-like faces.

Sun bears are the size of large dogs, standing around 1.3 meters (4ft 3′) tall. Grizzlies and other species can be as tall as 2.8 metres (9ft). They are the smallest of the bear species and are native to Southeast Asia.

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