Chinese zoo is forced to deny suspicions that standing bear is a human in costume
A bear in a Chinese zoo recently gained world attention after a video of it standing up and interacting with visitors drew suspicions that it was a human in a costume
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A zoo in China has denied some of its sun bears are humans dressed in costumes after a video of one standing on its back legs was posted online and went viral*.
Hangzhou Zoo addressed the wild allegations* in a statement pretending to be from Angela, the Malaysian sun bear seen standing up and staring at bemused* visitors.
“Some people think I stand like a person. It seems you don’t understand me very well,” the statement said, according to the New York Post newspaper.
Video of the bear drew attention as spectators noticed its slender* legs and folds of fur that make the creature appear as if it were a person standing in a bear suit.
When local media started reporting on the claims it forced zookeepers to note that the sun bears from Malaysia are smaller than other bears and have a different appearance — but are just as real.
A second video showing Angela waving also had people doubting if the bear was real.
But Ashleigh Marshall, an expert from Chester Zoo in the UK, told BBC TV that the animal “is definitely a real bear,” although she agreed with dubious zoo visitors that sun bears do often “look a lot like people in their costumes”.
Zoo officials also pointed out that a human inside a furry costume would never survive summer temperatures soaring to almost 40C.
“If a person did wear a bear costume, they would be lying down within minutes due to the heat,” a zoo spokesman said.
Sun bears are the smallest bears in the world. They are only about the size of a large dog.
At their largest, they are about 1.37m tall while standing on their hind legs (about the size of a nine-year old child), compared to grizzly bears, which can be up to 2.74m tall, which is about 1m taller than the average man.
Other Chinese zoos have also been accused of misleading guests about their animals — with allegations including dyeing dogs to look like wolves or African cats, and painting donkeys to look like zebras.
This article originally appeared in the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.
- viral: when an image, video or information spreads quickly
- allegations: claims that someone has done something wrong
- bemused: puzzled or confused
- slender: thin
1. In which zoo in China did visitors witness the bear?
2. What name did the zoo give the bear in its statement?
3. What type of bear is it?
4. What reasons did the zoo give to prove it couldn’t be a human?
5. What other allegations have there been about fake zoo animals in China?
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1. Finish Angela’s Statement
Angela’s statement was: “Some people think I stand like a person. It seems you don’t understand me very well.”
Use this as the first sentence of a letter or longer statement that you think that Angela would write in response to the allegations about her. Use information in the story to help you. Don’t forget to help your reader to understand how Angela might feel about being accused of being a human wearing a bear suit!
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity.
Curriculum Links: English, Science.
Do you think zoos help or harm animals? Write convincing paragraphs that give your opinion on this question. Use your research skills to find information to help you.
Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activity.
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Geography.
1. A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Have you ever heard the saying, 'A wolf in sheep’s clothing'? It is basically referring to someone or something trying to convince others they are something they are not. It was more used to refer to saying acting nice when actually they are evil, but over the years it has been used in a wider term.
In fact, you could use it when referring to the allegations against other Chinese zoos deceiving their guests in some very interesting ways.
The article states that other Chinese zoos have been accused of misleading guests about their animals — with allegations including dyeing dogs to look like wolves or African cats, and painting donkeys to look like zebras.
While this is a terrible thing to do, it does make for a good story plot … Imagine you are going to open a spectacular zoo in your backyard, only to discover that the animals you had ordered online are actually stuffed toys instead of the real deal. People will be so disappointed! Instead of telling everyone, you decide to try and convince them that everyday animals are actually ones you might find in a zoo.
Create a list of some animals that you might go to the zoo to see. Now, be creative and try to come up with some more common animals that you could use, with a few costumes or enhancements, to convince guests they are actually their zoo counterparts.
Explain what materials you will need, and then what you will need to do to the animal to disguise it.