“Bear Impersonators: Chinese Zoo Denies Allegations of Humans in Costume”

By | August 1, 2023



A zoo in eastern China has denied claims that its bears were actually people dressed in costumes after videos of a sun bear standing on its hind legs went viral. Hangzhou zoo officials released a statement from the perspective of the sun bear in question, named Angela, asserting that she is indeed a sun bear and not a human imposter. The videos, shared on Chinese social media, sparked speculation and conspiracy theories. Chinese zoos have faced ridicule in the past for attempting to pass off pets as wild animals. Sun bears, native to Southeast Asia, are the smallest bear species and are listed as vulnerable. They are threatened by poaching and deforestation. Mengchen Zhang,Wayne Chang,Heather Chen reported

Zoo in China Denies Rumors of Human Imposter Bear

Hangzhou Zoo Clarifies Misunderstandings Surrounding Sun Bear

A zoo in eastern China has vehemently denied accusations that some of its bears are actually people dressed in bear costumes. The controversy arose after videos of a Malayan sun bear standing on its hind legs and appearing uncannily human went viral on Chinese social media. The Hangzhou zoo, in a statement written from the perspective of a sun bear named “Angela,” expressed frustration towards those who “didn’t understand” the species.

“I’m Angela the sun bear,” the statement read, “I got a call after work yesterday from the head of the zoo asking if I was being lazy and skipped work today and found a human to take my place. Let me reiterate again to everyone that I am a sun bear – not a black bear, not a dog – a sun bear!”

The videos, which were shared on the popular Chinese microblogging site Weibo, showcased the sun bear standing upright on a rock, attracting attention due to its posture and folds of loose fur on its behind. These features led to speculation and rumors that a human imposter might be masquerading as a bear.

While the idea of humans pretending to be bears may seem far-fetched, Chinese zoos have previously faced ridicule for attempting to pass off domestic pets as exotic animals. In 2013, a zoo in the central Henan province faced public outrage when it tried to present a Tibetan Mastiff dog as a lion. Visitors were shocked when they heard the “lion” bark. Another Chinese zoo, located in Sichuan province, also drew criticism when visitors discovered a golden retriever housed in an enclosure labeled as an African lion habitat.

Understanding the Sun Bear

Sun bears, native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, are the smallest bear species in the world. Experts state that adult sun bears can reach heights of up to 70 centimeters (28 inches) and weigh between 25 to 65 kilograms (55 to 143 pounds). Known for their distinctive amber-colored crescent-shaped fur patches on their chests and long tongues, sun bears extract honey from bee hives, earning them the name “beruang madu” (honey bear) in Malaysia and Indonesia.


The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists sun bears as a vulnerable species, and they are protected in their native countries like Malaysia. Unfortunately, their population in the wild has declined by 35% over the past three decades due to poaching and deforestation. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC) in Sabah, Malaysia, which cares for 43 rescued bears, emphasizes the urgent need for awareness and education about sun bears.

Founder and wildlife biologist Wong Siew Te of BSBCC highlighted the unique characteristics of sun bears, explaining that their ability to stand on their hind legs serves a purpose. “Most bear species can stand on their hind legs, but sun bears stand up high to reach higher ground and investigate their surroundings,” Wong said. He also mentioned that female sun bears even hold their cubs with both hands and walk on their feet, resembling human-like behavior.

Furthermore, the bear’s loose, saggy skin plays a vital role in protecting them from predators. “Sun bears are usually fat and round. When conditions are bad and food is scarce, their skin becomes loose, providing armor against deeper bites and injuries,” Wong explained.

Despite their importance in the ecosystem, sun bears face numerous threats, including the cruel bear bile trade and the destruction of their natural habitat. Wong emphasized the need for increased awareness and conservation efforts, stating, “There needs to be more awareness and education about sun bears – they are a protected and special species and are in serious trouble.”

In conclusion, the Hangzhou zoo has firmly denied the allegations of human imposters among its bears, specifically the sun bear named Angela. These accusations, fueled by viral videos, have shed light on the endangered status of sun bears and the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect this unique and vulnerable species.


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