Chinese zoo forced to deny sun bear is a human in a bear suit

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

A zoo in China has been forced to hit back after it was claimed that a sun bear in their collection was actually a man in costume.

The sun bear is species of bear that typically lives in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia and is the smallest type of bear at up to 1.3 meters tall, but stocky, and had large paws with strongly curved claws, small rounded ears, and a short snout.

They are typically jet black in color (but can also vary from grey to red) and get their name from their characteristic orange or cream-colored patch on their chest.

While that might make it sound like it's pretty easy to identify a sun bear, Hangzhou Zoo in Zhejiang, eastern China, was forced to address rumors that the animal in question was really a man in a suit.

Footage went viral of the bear standing up in the zoo, leading some to speculate it might not be a real animal due to its humanlike stance, and the fact the fur on its backside appeared to gather like a pair of ill-fitting trousers.

The zoo wrote on its official social media account on Sunday: "Some people think I stand like a human, and it seems that you don’t understand me that much."

Speaking from the perspective of the bear - which is named Angela - the account continued: "Previously, some tourists thought that I was too tiny to be a bear. I have to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A sun bear!"

Footage of Angela the bear standing on her hind legs as she interacted with tourists went viral after the 15-second clip was shared on Douyin, which is the Chinese equivalent to TikTok.

wp-image-1263223143 size-full
Sun bears are the smallest type of bear and have human-like mannerisms. Credit: Harald Lange/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Despite the speculation, experts have confirmed there's no doubting that the animal in the footage is indeed a real sun bear.

Wong Siew Te, a wildlife biologist and the founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Malaysia, who has researched sun bears for the past 25 years, told NBC News: "[It is] a sun bear for sure.

"Sun bears could be very human-like. They stand like humans and walk like humans," adding that sun bear mothers can carry their young in their arms while walking on their hind legs, similar to humans.

Compared to most bears, which can stand at up to 2.8 meters tall on their hind legs, sun bears are much smaller in stature, reaching just 1.3 meters at the most when stood up.

They are listed as vulnerable animals and are on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with the population having shrunk by a third in the last 30 years.

Wong added: "Sun bears are the least known bears in the world. I believe the incident could call people’s attention on how sun bears may look like humans and hopefully could [let people know] that they are endangered species because of human activities."

Featured image credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Chinese zoo forced to deny sun bear is a human in a bear suit

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

A zoo in China has been forced to hit back after it was claimed that a sun bear in their collection was actually a man in costume.

The sun bear is species of bear that typically lives in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia and is the smallest type of bear at up to 1.3 meters tall, but stocky, and had large paws with strongly curved claws, small rounded ears, and a short snout.

They are typically jet black in color (but can also vary from grey to red) and get their name from their characteristic orange or cream-colored patch on their chest.

While that might make it sound like it's pretty easy to identify a sun bear, Hangzhou Zoo in Zhejiang, eastern China, was forced to address rumors that the animal in question was really a man in a suit.

Footage went viral of the bear standing up in the zoo, leading some to speculate it might not be a real animal due to its humanlike stance, and the fact the fur on its backside appeared to gather like a pair of ill-fitting trousers.

The zoo wrote on its official social media account on Sunday: "Some people think I stand like a human, and it seems that you don’t understand me that much."

Speaking from the perspective of the bear - which is named Angela - the account continued: "Previously, some tourists thought that I was too tiny to be a bear. I have to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A sun bear!"

Footage of Angela the bear standing on her hind legs as she interacted with tourists went viral after the 15-second clip was shared on Douyin, which is the Chinese equivalent to TikTok.

wp-image-1263223143 size-full
Sun bears are the smallest type of bear and have human-like mannerisms. Credit: Harald Lange/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Despite the speculation, experts have confirmed there's no doubting that the animal in the footage is indeed a real sun bear.

Wong Siew Te, a wildlife biologist and the founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Malaysia, who has researched sun bears for the past 25 years, told NBC News: "[It is] a sun bear for sure.

"Sun bears could be very human-like. They stand like humans and walk like humans," adding that sun bear mothers can carry their young in their arms while walking on their hind legs, similar to humans.

Compared to most bears, which can stand at up to 2.8 meters tall on their hind legs, sun bears are much smaller in stature, reaching just 1.3 meters at the most when stood up.

They are listed as vulnerable animals and are on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with the population having shrunk by a third in the last 30 years.

Wong added: "Sun bears are the least known bears in the world. I believe the incident could call people’s attention on how sun bears may look like humans and hopefully could [let people know] that they are endangered species because of human activities."

Featured image credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images