Zoo denies bear is a man in a costume – but the pictures would suggest otherwise

A zoo in China has been forced to deny rumours swirling over the internet that one of its sun bears is in fact a human in a costume.

Speculation over the species mounted after pictures emerged of the bear standing in a remarkably human-like way at the edge of an enclosure.

The bear’s back looked very straight and its feet also flat, as well as the fur at the back of the animal appearing creased like an item of clothing.

Hangzhou Zoo, in the east of the country, decided to answer the rumours by posting online from the perspective of the bear, called Angela, who in a statement denied she was a person. 

They wrote: “Some people think I stand like a person, it seems you don’t understand me very well When it comes to bears, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge figure and amazing power… but not all bears are behemoths and danger personified.”

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Angela said Malayan bears are petite and the smallest bear in the world. In an audio recording circulating on the social media app WeChat, a spokesperson for the zoo said the animal was real and that such deception would not happen at a state-run facility.

The spokesperson also said that in 40C heat, a human in a fur bear suit “would not last more than a few minutes before collapsing.”

An employee who answered the phone at the zoo declined to talk about the bears but said visits were being arranged for reporters today to see them.

Internet users questioned whether the zoo’s bears were real after photos circulated showing one standing upright on slender hind legs.

Sun bears are the size of large dogs, standing at most just over four feet tall on their hind legs, compared with up to 2.8 metres for grizzlies and other species, according to the Zoo.

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Other Chinese zoos have been accused of trying to pass off dogs dyed to look like wolves or African cats, and donkeys painted to look like zebras.

For a safari-themed wedding reception in a Spanish beach town a few years ago, two donkeys were actually painted black and white to resemble zebras.

The incident caused massive outrage online after the pictures were shared. One person said: “The donkeys, in danger of extinction, are used for tourist exploitation.”

“It is shameful, poor animals,” wrote one person in the comments section. “Did they really need to paint donkeys for a wedding” another questioned.

A zoo in Egypt was accused of pulling a similar stunt when a photo of a suspicious-looking animal, with a lighter snout and longer ears than typical zebras went viral.

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