After video of a sun bear standing on its hind legs sparked online claims in China of a furry imposter, the zoo has adamantly denied the allegations that it is a human in a costume.
On Chinese social media, a video of a sun bear standing up on its hind legs and engaging with a group of people at a zoo in eastern Hangzhou city went viral.
Many readers expressed doubts about the bear’s authenticity, with some claiming that its bipedal posture and aged skin suggested it was a human in disguise.
The zoo, however, refuted the accusations, stating in a statement written from the bear’s point of view on Sunday that the animal was real and its critics “really don’t understand me.”
“The zoo director called me after work yesterday and asked if I’d been slacking off by finding a two-legged beast to replace me,” Angela, the bear, said in a statement.
“Some individuals thought my posture was too human… So I’ll repeat it once more: I’m a sun bear!”
Sun bears are named after a patch of bright orange or cream-colored chest fur that contrasts with the rest of their jet-black coat.
It is the tiniest bear, about the size of a large dog, and is considered vulnerable due to deforestation and the worldwide wildlife trade.
Other Chinese zoos have previously been accused of housing animals that are not what they appear to be, such as a shaggy dog masquerading as a “African lion” and a pool filled with penguin-shaped balloons.
The Sun Bear in China
The sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) is the smallest bear species and is found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. China is home to another bear species known as the Asiatic black bear or moon bear (Ursus thibetanus), which is found in various regions of the country, including the southwestern and northeastern parts. Asiatic black bears are larger than sun bears and have a distinctive crescent-shaped white patch on their chest, which is similar to the sun bear’s chest marking but is white instead of orange or yellow.
It’s important to note that wildlife distributions can change over time due to various factors, including habitat changes and human activities. Therefore, for the most up-to-date and accurate information on the presence of sun bears or any other species in a specific region, it is advisable to consult recent research or local wildlife authorities.
Here are some key features and facts about the sun bear:
1. Size: Sun bears are relatively small compared to other bear species, with adults typically weighing between 60 to 150 pounds (27 to 68 kilograms) and measuring around 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) in length.
2. Physical Characteristics: They have short, sleek black fur with a distinctive, crescent-shaped patch of yellow or orange fur on their chest, which gives them their name. This patch is often compared to the shape of the rising or setting sun, hence the name “sun bear.”
3. Range and Habitat: Sun bears are primarily found in Southeast Asia, including countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, and some parts of Indonesia. They inhabit lowland rainforests, swamps, and other forested areas.
4. Diet: Sun bears are omnivorous and have a varied diet. They consume a range of foods, including fruits, insects, small mammals, honey, and other vegetation. Their strong claws and long tongue are well-adapted for extracting insects and honey from tree bark.
5. Behavior: Sun bears are solitary animals and are mostly nocturnal, being active during the night and resting during the day. They are known for their climbing abilities and are often seen ascending trees to forage for food.
6. Conservation Status: The sun bear is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The primary threats to their population include habitat loss due to deforestation, illegal hunting for their body parts and bear bile, and human-wildlife conflicts.
7. Reproduction: Sun bears reach sexual maturity at around three to four years of age. They usually give birth to one or two cubs, and the cubs stay with their mother until they are independent enough to fend for themselves.
8. Conservation Efforts: Several organizations and conservation groups are working to protect sun bears and their habitats. Initiatives include setting up protected areas, rehabilitating rescued bears, and raising awareness about the importance of conserving this unique bear species.
Due to the ongoing conservation efforts, there is hope that these efforts will help stabilize the sun bear populations and ensure their survival in the wild.