Some zoo animals reach celebrity status due to their charisma or significance to the local community. But one particular bear has been making headlines for its very suspicious looks. A now viral video shows a sun bear named Angela living at Hangzhou Zoo, but she’s been raising eyebrows. Not only does she appear to be standing very straight on her hind legs, but the loose fur on her lower back also makes her coat look like a costume. The animal has even been spotted waving at the camera, which has only further raised suspicions about whether this is a real bear or not.
Could the bear actually be a human in a suit? This thought has sparked a ton of funny and skeptical reactions. “[Whoever] thinks this is a fake bear get in the enclosure with it and let us [know] if there’s a zipper on [its] back,” one Redditor wrote. Distraught about the claims, the zoo staff quickly denied the rumors. “Of course it’s a real animal, it’s definitely not a person in disguise,” a worker said. “Our place is a state-run facility, such situations won’t happen here.” The worker added that the video was taken on a summer day, where temperatures can reach 104ºF. “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.”
The zoo also playfully posted a statement from the bear: “Yesterday after work, I received a call from the park manager asking me if I was slacking off and had a biped replace me. Much to my surprise, I’m just sitting in the mountains and I go viral on the internet. Some people think I look too human when I stand up. It seems you really don’t understand me. Previously, some visitors even thought I was too petite to be a bear! I want to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A Malayan sun bear!”
While it may not look like the big, chubby creatures we're used to, experts who have chimed in think that it is a bear. “Looks like a sun bear to me,” Charles Robbins, director of research at the Washington State University Bear Center, told The New York Times. “Presumably, the bear has been rewarded with food by the crowd for standing, so it learned very quickly to do just that. Meanwhile, Dr. Ashleigh Marshall, an expert from Chester Zoo, told the BBC that the animal in the video is “definitely a real bear,” although she concedes that these kind of bears can “look a lot like people in their costumes.”
So, as funny as it is to picture someone dressing up as a bear to entertain a crowd, Angela the bear seems very much real. And while in the past some Chinese zoos have used hairy dogs to pass as “African lions” or wolves, this is not the case. If anything, this particular bear seems to have given us a quick lesson in bear anatomy and diversity.
A bear in a Chinese Zoo has raised eyebrows for its peculiar looks and behavior. Could the bear actually be a human in a suit?
While it may not look like the big, chubby creatures we're used to, experts who have chimed in think that it is a bear. You can watch the viral footage of the bear below.
h/t: [The Straits Times]