Solar, moon, grizzly, black, spectacled, sloth: Bears everywhere in the world can stand, shuffle, totter and stroll on two legs, although they normally desire 4.
They don’t — strictly talking — speak.
However a zoo in Hangzhou, China, determined that one of the simplest ways to clear up a conspiracy idea about one among its bears was to launch an announcement within the bear’s voice.
The confusion appeared to start in late July, when a video surfaced on the Chinese language social media web site Weibo of a solar bear named Angela standing on a rock in its zoo enclosure, with ramrod posture on its hind legs.
Some Weibo customers started to forged doubt on the ursine fact of the bear. Some accused the zoo of utilizing a canine impostor — solar bears can develop to the proportions of a big canine, about 4 and a half ft lengthy and as much as 145 kilos.
The declare has some precedent: In 2013, a zoo in Henan Province was accused of changing its lion with a Tibetan mastiff.
Different Weibo customers had a extra unique clarification: They mentioned the zoo had caught a human in a bear swimsuit, with the posture, free pores and skin and fur giving it away.
One commenter joked that being the bear was in all probability somebody’s summer season job, whereas one other mentioned that the outstanding folds on the bear’s fur regarded an excessive amount of like these of a fancy dress. (Consultants say solar bears have free pores and skin that helps them wriggle away from predators).
These customers, joking or not, might have additionally had trigger for suspicion. At a panda reserve in Sichuan Province, keepers generally put on panda costumes to restrict the animals’ stress and their issues of human attachment.
Nevertheless the costumes might seem to the pandas, the dishevelled masks and black-and-white, zip-up jumpsuits have repeatedly disturbed people through the years. Some zoos additionally use costumed staff to run animal escape drills.
Not all Weibo customers doubted the bear’s authenticity: A lot of commenters pinned the blame on vacationers, who they mentioned had in all probability overfed the bear, main Angela to develop a behavior of standing upright to beg for extra. Over the weekend, as the controversy intensified, it grew to become a trending subject on Weibo. (Probably including to the fervor this week have been viral movies of a Japanese man wearing a sensible canine costume underneath the YouTube deal with @I_want_to_be_an_animal.)
Staff on the Hangzhou zoo, accused of harboring a human in solar bear disguise, felt compelled to reply. On July 29, an unnamed employee defended the bear and the zoo to a Chinese language information outlet in an interview that circulated on social media.
“In fact it’s an actual animal, it’s undoubtedly not an individual in disguise,” he mentioned. “Our place is a state-run facility, such conditions received’t occur right here.”
The employee supplied an uncommon follow-up protection, arguing that bear fits are just too scorching to put on in the summertime, when temperatures attain 40 levels Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit. “When you have been to put on a swimsuit, you undoubtedly couldn’t bear it for various minutes,” he mentioned. “You’d need to lie down.”
Was he talking from private expertise? He didn’t say. His clarification didn’t fulfill all of the doubters, so the zoo adopted up with an announcement on Sunday written within the voice of “Angela the Malayan solar bear.”
The assertion insisted that the bear was really a bear, versus an individual pretending to be a bear — or an individual pretending to be a bear insisting they weren’t an individual pretending to be a bear.
“Yesterday after work, I obtained a name from the park supervisor asking me if I used to be slacking off and had a biped change me,” the assertion mentioned, “A lot to my shock, I’m simply sitting within the mountains and I am going viral on the web. Some folks assume I look too human after I arise. It appears you actually don’t perceive me. Beforehand, some guests even thought I used to be too petite to be a bear! I need to emphasize once more: I’m a Malayan solar bear! Not a black bear! Not a canine! A Malayan solar bear!”
The assertion went on to clarify that not all bears are “large and harmful,” even when they’re a “household of fierce beasts.”
Charles Robbins, director of analysis on the Washington State College Bear Middle, agreed with the speculation that the bear was begging for meals.
“Seems to be like a solar bear to me,” Dr. Robbins mentioned on Tuesday. “Presumably, the bear has been rewarded with meals by the group for standing, so it realized in a short time to do exactly that.”
It’s common for bears to depend on their hind legs, he added. “I’ve a grizzly bear that can stand and stroll two-legged.”
The Hangzhou Zoo is probably not in a rush to place the bear controversy to mattress. Within the days following the movies, visits soared. A director of the zoo advised Chao Information, a Zhejiang-based newspaper, that over 20,000 vacationers visited the zoo on Saturday, roughly 30 p.c greater than the each day common.