‘Human in disguise’: Chinese zoo forced to deny bear is a person

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A Chinese zoo has been forced to deny that one of its bears is a “human in disguise” after footage of the animal, which appeared to be standing like a costumed person, triggered speculation.

Sun bears, originally from Malaysia, are smaller than other species, the Hangzhou Zoo insisted and assured visitors that their animals are the real thing.

Social media photos of the sun bear’s appearance at the zoo.

“Some people think I stand like a person,” the zoo wrote on social media, from the perspective of the bear in question.

“It seems you don’t understand me very well.”

The zoo released the post after a visitor shared footage of a bear standing in a human-like fashion. The video, which has been widely shared, shows a sun bear standing upright on slender hind legs, with a wrinkly hide suggestive of a costume.

The folds mainly gather at the animal’s lower back, giving it the appearance of having a saggy behind.

The bear is standing in its enclosure in front of visitors, holding out its paws while balanced on a rock. It eventually tires and sits down.

“Because of the way they stand, some people online question whether they are ‘humans in disguise’,” Hangzhou Daily, the Chinese newspaper, reported.

Sun bears are the size of large dogs, standing, at most, at 1.3 metres tall on their hind legs, compared with up to 2.8 metres for grizzlies and other species, according to the Hangzhou Zoo.

The animals’ skin is loose, meaning that it sometimes forms wrinkles on their foreheads and folds in their lower back when they are standing, according to a Cambridge University Press study.

The Hangzhou Zoo said visits have been arranged for reporters to prove their veracity.

A spokesperson also pointed to sweltering summer temperatures in China, saying it would be impossible for a person to don a thick bear costume in the 40 degree heat.

“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,” they told Beijing Radio and Television Station.

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

The Telegraph, London

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