A zoo in eastern China has been forced to deny suggestions that some of its bears are actually humans in costume after images of one of the animals standing up in its enclosure surfaced online.
While it’s uncommon for bears to stand on their hind legs, the images of one of Hangzhou Zoo’s sun bears from Malaysia show the animal standing at the edge of its enclosure with its fur sagging above its legs.
The bizarre sighting led to accusations that it might actually be a zoo employee in disguise.
The zoo was quick to react, a spokesperson saying in an audio clip circulating WeChat that such deception would not happen at a state-run facility.
“Some people think I stand like a person,” said a posting from Hangzhou Zoo on its social media account, written from point of view of Angela, a Malaysian sun bear. “It seems you don’t understand me very well.”
The sun bears are smaller than other bears and look different but are the real thing, the Hangzhou Zoo said in the post. “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,” it added.
“Because of the way they stand, some people online question whether they are ‘humans in disguise,”‘ the newspaper Hangzhou Daily said. One social media user commented on a video of the bear that it “looks like it’s wearing a leather jacket”. Others suggested that the animal’s posture was “more upright” than your average person.