Chinese zoo denies its bears are humans dressed in costumes

Tourists flock to Hangzhou Zoo after video of Malayan bear standing on its hind leg goes viral

A zoo in eastern China has denied suggestions that some of its bears could be humans dressed in costumes.

Visitors are thronging a zoo in Zhejiang province after a video of one of its bears standing on its hind legs went viral with some people suggesting she looked so human that she might be a staff member in a bear suit, local media reported on Tuesday.

Visitor numbers at Hangzhou Zoo have gone up by 30 per cent to around 20,000 a day since a video of the Malayan bear, named Angela, became a trending topic on Chinese social media over the weekend, Zhejiang province-based Chao News reported.

In the widely shared video posted last Thursday, the bear, also known as a sun bear, can be seen standing on its hind legs and stretching its neck out as it faces visitors watching from outside its enclosure, before sitting back down.


It was when Angela was standing up that some viewers said she looked like someone wearing a bear suit. “If this is fake it deserves an Oscar for special effects,” said one user on the Weibo microblog platform.

The zoo has sought to dismiss the rumour in posts on its official WeChat account and in interviews with local media, saying that Angela is “definitely not a human”.

“Our zoo is government-run, so that kind of situation would not happen,” a member of staff said, according to local media. “The temperature in the summer is nearly 40 degrees, if you put on a fur suit, you certainly couldn’t last more than a few minutes without lying down.”

In a statement published on Sunday from the perspective of Angela, a Malaysian sun bear, zookeepers at Hangzhou zoo said: “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. We Malayan bears are petite, the smallest bear in the world.”

Sun bears are the size of large dogs, standing at most 50in (1.3 metres) tall on their hind legs. – Agencies