‘100 Percent Sure’: Expert Says Viral Sun Bear in Chinese Zoo Is Real

Angel Yuan
By Angel Yuan
August 4, 2023Chinashare
‘100 Percent Sure’: Expert Says Viral Sun Bear in Chinese Zoo Is Real
A sun bear at Hangzhou Zoo in Hangzhou City, China, on April 5, 2022, in a still from video. (AP/Screenshot via NTD)

An expert has weighed in on the debate spreading online that a bear in an eastern China zoo was actually a human in a costume.

In a CNN interview with Siew Te Wong, a wildlife biologist and sun bear expert, he says that he is “very very convinced, 100 percent sure that it is a sun bear.”

He said he “didn’t know whether to laugh or cry” when he heard the rumors, according to The Mirror.

Mr. Wong has conducted many studies on Malayan sun bears for 25 years and is the founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center in Malaysia.

“There is no doubt that it is a sun bear. I currently have four rescue sun bears in my center and it shows that people know very little about them,” he told The Mirror.

Suspicions about the authenticity of the bear named Angela arose after a viral video of it standing like a human and waving to tourists spread on social media.

“Sun bears could be very human-like, they stand like humans and walk like humans,” he said. Moreover, he pointed out that sun bear mothers have the ability to carry their babies using their hands while walking on their hind legs.

The expert further elaborated on the reason behind the bears’ behavior. He stated that from a very early age, they have a natural inclination to stand upright to gain a better view of their surroundings, enhance their senses, and explore the environment. In a zoo setting, they tend to observe and interact with people, waving to visitors to grab their attention. This zoo allows visitors to feed the bears, which adds to their engagement with the public.

The sun bear, with a distinctive golden crescent on its chest, is the world’s smallest bear species, with its size being only half of the American black bear. They are currently listed as a vulnerable species, with their population decreasing by 30 percent in the last 30 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

“Sun bears are the least known bears in the world,” Mr. Wong said. “I believe the incident could call people’s attention on how sun bears may look like humans and hopefully could [let people know] that they are endangered species because of human activities,” he added, citing large-scale deforestation and hunting.

The Hangzhou Zoo has insisted that Angela is indeed a genuine bear, clarifying that sun bears may have appearances that slightly differ from people’s usual expectations.

In a post written from Angela’s perspective, it says that “When it comes to bears, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge figure and astonishing power. But not all bears are behemoths and danger personified.”

“Previously, some tourists thought that I was too tiny to be a bear. I have to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A sun bear!”

The zoo was also careful to deny suggestions that Angela was a person in disguise, adding: “If you get someone to wear such thick fur in this summer heat, they won’t last more than a few minutes before they need to lie down.”

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