A zoo in China is cutting straight to the point, refuting speculation that its Malayan sun bear could be a man wearing a bear costume.
“It’s definitely a real animal. It’s definitely not a person wearing a bear costume,” the zoo’s management said in a statement.
“It’s 104F out here in the summer,” they added. “A person in a bear costume wouldn’t last more than a few minutes.”
Admittedly, the bear did seem eerily human.
Photos and videos of the Hangzhou Zoo’s sun bear had previously gone viral for displaying suspiciously human-like qualities. In many clips, the bear would happily stand up and walk around on its hind legs, waving hello to visitors.
The Malayan sun bear is the smallest of all bears, standing around 4 feet tall on their hind legs, and weighing between 60 - 145 pounds. Some viewers seemed to confuse the animal for a black bear, noting its legs were too slender, its fur almost ill-fitting.
“The folds of fur do look a little bit like a coat,” wrote one commenter.
The Hangzhou Zoo took these accusations seriously — in the past, smaller zoos in other parts of China have been caught trying to pass off dogs as lions, and substituting penguins with inflatable replicas. In Egypt, a zoo tried to deny criticism that its zebra was clearly a donkey painted with stripes.
“We’re a state-run enterprise, this just wouldn’t happen,” the Hangzhou Zoo said, adding that the bear walking on its hind legs was a learned behavior which aimed to earn food from passersby.
A zoo employee said visits were being arranged for reporters to inspect the bear up close.
Images via Weibo
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