Chinese Zoo Disguises Human as Sun Bear in Costume? Speculations After Video Shows Strange Animal Behavior

The Hangzhou Zoo, located in eastern China, had to issue an explanation after a video of one of its sun bears standing on its hind legs went viral. The video led to a conspiracy theory spreading online, with many people speculating that the zoo might be using a human being disguised as a bear for some reason.

Chinese zoo
The sun bear at a Chinese zoo. Twitter

Native to the rainforests of South East Asia, the endangered Sun bears are considered to be the smallest bear species in the world and are generally the size of a large dog.

What Caused the Speculation?

The video that went viral showed a sun bear at the Hangzhou Zoo in China standing upright on the edge of its enclosure. This behavior of the sun bear standing on its hind legs might have surprised and intrigued some viewers because it is not something commonly associated with bears.

Social media users began speculating about how the bear could stand so upright on its hind legs for an extended period. Additionally, some users pointed out the appearance of loose skin around the bear's hips, which they thought looked like what one might see in a person wearing an ill-fitting bear costume.

"Thousands have descended on a Chinese zoo which was forced to deny that one of its bears is secretly a human being in costume. Footage of the 'bear' went viral on Chinese social media, with a number of observers pointing out its unusual posture and body language," tweeted a user.

"Scandal erupts at a Chinese zoo: staff are accused of replacing Malaysian bears with people in costumes. Zoo admin denies the claims, insisting that the Malaysian bears are smaller and move differently than their relatives. They claim the visitors saw a real bear, not a human. Sounds convincing. Until you spot a 'bear' taking a smoke break or enjoying a latte. No judgement, bear life must be grizzly!" read another tweet.

Zoo Denies Wrongdoing

After the video went viral, the zoo authorities were forced to issued a clarification. BBC reported that in a statement Hangzhou Zoo said that people "don't understand" the species.

A post from the zoo, written on behalf of the sun bear called Angela, read, "Some people think I stand like a person... It seems you don't understand me very well."

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."

Speaking to the outlet, Dr Ashleigh Marshall, an expert from Chester Zoo, said that the animal in the video is "definitely a real bear." Speaking about the folds in the bear's skin, she said that it was normal and very important feature of the animal's anatomy.

"The folds help protect the bears from predators, as the looseness allows the bear to turn around in their skin and fight back if a large animal like a tiger were to get hold of them, Dr Marshall added.