Sun bear at Chinese zoo is NOT a 'human in disguise'
Sun bear at Chinese zoo is NOT a ‘human in disguise’: Expert explains why internet sensation Angela stood up straight in video which sparked bizarre conspiracy theory
- Expert Dr Wong Siew Te said it shows how little people know about sun bears
- READ MORE: Chinese zoo inundated with 20,000 visitors a day to see bear
Angela the sun bear has left people around the world baffled since footage of the human-like zoo animal first emerged – with fans debating whether she really is a bear or a person in a costume.
But now an expert has weighed in to explain that the bear, which lives in Hanzhou Zoo, China, is definitely not ‘a human in disguise’.
Dr Wong Siew Te, a Malaysian wildlife biologist and sun bear specialist, said he ‘didn’t know whether to laugh or cry’ when he heard the allegations about the creature.
‘There is no doubt that it is a sun bear. I currently have four rescue sun bears in my centre and it shows that people know very little about them,’ he told The Mirror.
Dr Wong did sympathise with people who mistook Angela for a human however, pointing out that zoos in China have previously ‘made up fake stuff’.
Suspicion around Angela’s human-like ways first arose online after the sun bear was seen standing, begging for food, and seemingly waving like a person might
Dr Wong Siew Te, a Malaysian wildlife biologist and sun bear specialist, said he ‘didn’t know whether to laugh or cry’ when he heard the allegations about the creature
His comment is likely in reference to accusations levelled at Chinese zoos in the past, including a reported case of a dog being passed off as a lion at a park in Louhe, Henan, in 2013.
When Dr Wong himself first saw a sun bear, he said, ‘I… was like: ‘Wow and yes it looks like a human’s wearing a bear suit’, but this is just sun bear and that is what is amazing’.
Suspicion around Angela’s human-like ways first arose online after the sun bear was seen standing, begging for food, and seemingly waving like a person might.
The camera angle also showed an unflattering view of sagging fur around Angela’s behind – which many suggested made it look like a costume.
Now, tens of millions have seen clips of the bear clumsily trying to catch food thrown into the enclosure by visitors before it resigns itself to sitting on a rock.
The zoo was quick to dismiss claims the animal playing dress-up, stressing that such deception would not happen at a state-run zoo.
New photos from show visitors gathering to see the bear as it walks around its enclosure and snacks on a mix of fruit and vegetables.
Qian Ming, one of 20,000 a day now travelling to catch a glimpse of Angela, told local TV he had travelled 150 miles by train, from Suzhou, to see her.
‘We travelled overnight last night to get here,’ he said.
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a sun bear interacts with tourists at the Hangzhou Zoo in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023
A sun bear enjoys fruits at Hangzhou Zoo in Hangzhou, China’s Zhejiang Province, August 2. Angela, 4, was seen clumsily trying to catch food thrown in by visitors in the clip
A bear is seen sitting on a rock in Hangzhou Zoo, recently pressed to respond to strange allegations their sun bears were, in fact, human beings in costumes
Their big paws with hairless soles may look like feet, but are adapted to help them climb
Another excited visitor told a local news outlet: ‘After seeing this bear standing up on the internet, I wanted to see how it looks in real life, so I came here.’
The Hangzhou Zoo has insisted that Angela is a real bear, explaining that sun bears can look a little different to what people might expect.
A spokesperson said: ‘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.’
They were also careful to dismiss claims Angela was a person in a suit, 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.
‘We are a government-operated zoo. There will never be situations like that.’
Experts have also weighed in on the popular clip. Dr Ashleigh Marshall, an expert from Chester Zoo, told the BBC that the animal ‘is definitely a real bear’.
She explained that the folds on its back, assumed to be evidence of an ill-fitting costume, help protect the bear from predators, as the looseness allows the bear to ‘turn around in their skin’ and fight back if grabbed.
Others have responded to the story with concern for the bear’s welfare.
Jason Baker, Vice President at PETA Asia, said: ‘Sun bears are living, feeling beings, not a joke, and PETA hopes that people will think about the suffering and needs of animals who spend an eternity behind bars.
‘These highly intelligent, social animals deserve to live free and thrive in their natural environment – not be used as mere spectacles for human entertainment.
‘PETA strongly urges Hangzhou Zoo and all similar establishments immediately to stop using sun bears or any other animals for breeding purposes.
‘And we call on the public to support sanctuaries and wildlife reserves that prioritise the well-being of animals in their care.’
A sun bear stays in a pool at Hangzhou Zoo in east China’s Zhejiang Province, August 2, as visitors to the zoo rise 30 per cent following the circulation of a viral clip
The zoo in China said despite the odd looking fur and legs, ‘it is a real animal’
The state-owned zoo responded to allegations the bear (pictured) was a human in a suit
Sun bears have distinct features such as a short, sleek black coat, a pale yellowish crescent on their chests (which gives them their name), and a light-colored muzzle.
They are also known as honey bears – due to their love of honey – and dog-faced bears… for their dog-like faces.
Their big paws with hairless soles may look like feet, but are adapted to help them climb.
Sun bears are the size of large dogs, standing at most 1.3 meters (4ft 3′) tall on their hind legs – far shorter than other species.
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