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'World's saddest polar bear' exhibited in Chinese shopping mall

(People's Daily Online)    14:01, July 26, 2016
'World's saddest polar bear' exhibited in Chinese shopping mall

A live polar bear currently on display in a shopping center in southern China's Guangzhou has recently triggered concerns from the mall's many visitors. Forced to live in the summer heat rather than its usual ice habitat, it has been dubbed the "world's saddest polar bear" by sympathetic viewers.

The lethargic bear, whose name is Pizza, is being exhibited at an ocean theme park within the shopping center. As the only polar bear in the park, Pizza lives in an aquarium of less than 40 square meters. Although the aquarium contains a pool, Pizza seldom spends time in the water. One more source of stress for the bear is the groups of visitors who tap on the glass behind which the polar bear is kept. Many also pose for selfies with Pizza.

Visitors have raised concerns that being confined to such a small space might make the bear anxious. The park's deputy manager, Li Chengtang, responded that it's hard to judge the appropriateness of the living space since China doesn't have regulations about such things.

Addressing complaints about the city's unsuitable climate, Li explained that as a polar bear raised in captivity, Pizza is able to survive in an artificial environment. In addition, the theme park spends tens of thousands of yuan on Pizza's food, and provides the bear with advanced medical care, Li added.

Sun Quanhui, a senior scientific advisor at World Animal Protection, said that animals raised in captivity are still wild animals. He does not believe that a mall can provide a comparable environment to the one Pizza would enjoy in the wild. What's more, frequent contact with human beings can adversely affect the bear's mental health, immunity and life span, Sun added.

Zhang Xiaohai, executive secretary of the Ta Foundation, a Beijing-based animal protection organization, noted that it's becoming rarer and rarer across the globe to exhibit animals in showrooms, as is currently being done with Pizza. This is especially true for marine animals with high intelligence. Zhang believes that such exhibitions are inhumane, and that is wrong for visitors to support them. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Hongyu,Wu Chengliang)

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