Bear at Hangzhou Zoo goes viral with human-like behavior

By Quan Zhanfu (Chinadaily.com.cn) 09:04, August 02, 2023

A screenshot from the video.

"It is a real bear, not a human in disguise," Hangzhou Zoo in Zhejiang province said on Sunday in response to online speculation over whether a bear in the zoo is actually a human wearing a suit.

Since it was posted on July 27, a video of a bear standing on its hind legs, waving and interacting with tourists has circulated widely on social media in China. Its human-like gestures and folds of fur had many people questioning whether it is real.

On a day with temperatures as high as 40C, a human could not have survived in a heavy bear suit, a worker with the zoo told Qianjiang Evening News, a news outlet based in Zhejiang province, on July 29.

The bear in question is a sun bear whose name is Angela. Having arrived at the zoo three years ago from another zoo in the province, the 4-year-old bear has just reached adulthood in an average lifespan of only 24 years.

Angela has won over many visitors with her unique behavior.

After the video went viral, visits to the zoo have increased to over 20,000 a day, up about one-third compared to before, Jiang Zhi, deputy director of the zoo, told a reporter with Tide News, a news portal based in Zhejiang.

Jiang explained as the world's smallest bear species, sun bears are known for their gentle nature. Comparable in size to a large dog, these bears typically measure between 1.1 to 1.5 meters in length and weigh an average of 55 kilograms. When standing, they reach a height of approximately 1.5 meters.

Unfortunately, these cute animals are experiencing a fall in their wild population, and are under first-grade state protection in China.

Angela has a male companion named Dalu, with whom she shares meals and living space. The two bears are inseparable, spending almost 24 hours a day together.

The zoo has already prepared a maternity room for the couple, hoping to welcome cubs in the second half of the year or in 2024.

As for her upright stance, Jiang explained all bears have the ability to stand, especially in the wild when they engage in play or fights. Malaysian sun bears, in particular, have a higher tendency to stand on their hind legs with loose skin folded on their back, which may resemble a person wearing a bear costume.

As with other bear species, sun bears are omnivorous. At Hangzhou Zoo, keepers provide them with a varied diet, including milk, red dates, seasonal fruits and worms. Jiang was careful to point out tourists should not feed the bears any food to avoid harming the creatures.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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