China's Hangzhou Zoo Addresses Claim That Their Bears Are Actually Humans Dressed in Costumes

A zoo in China was recently forced to address a conspiracy that their sun bears were not bears at all, but actually human beings in costume after footage of one of their bears standing went viral.

By Hayley Santaflorentina Aug 01, 2023 3:53 PMTags
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The bear necessities for a zoo? Having real animals. 

Yet China's Hangzhou Zoo recently had to confirm that their Malayan sun bears are just that after rumors surfaced that the animals are humans dressed in costumes. This need for clarification arose after a clip went viral on social media that showed footage of one of the zoo's bears standing on what looked to be rather slender hind legs. 

"Some people think I stand like a person," the zoo said in a statement written from the perspective of Angela, the sun bear in question, on July 31, per the Associated Press. "It seems you don't understand me very well."

And in defending its bears, the zoo clarified some misconceptions about how the animals vary when it comes to different species.

 "When it comes to bears, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge figure and amazing power," the note continued. "But not all bears are behemoths and danger personified. We Malayan bears are petite, the smallest bear in the world."

And it's true—sun bears only stand at about 50 inches tall (about 4 feet) while on their hind legs and weigh about 55 to 143 pounds, while other species of bears, such as the grizzly bear, can weigh over 600 pounds and stand at 84 inches (7 feet). 

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A spokesperson for the zoo further shot down the rumors, confirming in a voice note obtained by The Guardian that such a "deception would not happen at a state-run facility." They also pointed out logistical aspects of the con, noting that in China's 100-degree summer heat, a person in a bear costume "would not last more than a few minutes before collapsing".

CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

And when it came to the bear's validity, many Twitter users felt koalafied to judge. 

"Can't blame them given the human-looking feet and the mouth remaining open," wrote one user in response to the video, "but if you look closely you can see small movements in the bear's lips. It would have to be a hell of a sophisticated mask for the actor to be able to do that."

Others were quick to overlook the human conspiracies. "That's a real bear, dude," someone tweeted, while another said, "Looks nothing like a human dressed up."

Some users, however, admitted the footage of the bear standing requires a bit of a double take.

"Looks very real to me when it sat down," wrote one, "standing up, it looks human being so skinny for a bear. Wow! I had to look hard."

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