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There’s some new controversy on the internet. At the center of it is a bear – a sun bear, to be exact.
Sun bears are interesting animals native to Southeast Asia. They’re the smallest bear species out there out of all eight. Their tails are so small that their fur usually hides them, and their paws are hairless. They also have a lot of loose skin to allow for better movement during fights. Once mature, sun bears stand about 70 centimeters (about 2 feet) tall on all fours and weigh between 25 to 65 kilograms (55 to 143 pounds). But, they are between 1-1.5 meters (3-5 feet) long, so standing on their hind legs, they can be kinda human-like from that angle.
Over the weekend, videos and photos of the Malayan sun bears housed in China’s Hangzhou Zoo have gone totally viral, showing them standing on two feet, like people. Because of their unique, not-very-bear-like, appearance, people all over the world have been accusing these bears of being humans actually dressed as bears. Yeah – that’s where we’re at.
A video was posted last Thursday showing a sun bear named Angela standing at the edge of its enclosure, letting its paws hang at its sides and looking back at the zoo visitors. Because of its skinnier legs and loose skin around the pants area, it does kind of look like it could be a person with some kind of weird bear costume on.
Angela herself took to Hangzhou Zoo’s social media to express how she feels about the situation. "Some people think I stand like a person," the bear posted. "It seems you don't understand me very well."
But even if people don’t seem to understand the sun bear, they definitely want to see it for themselves. The zoo has been enjoying a sudden influx of visitors as the public clamors to get a look at China’s newest internet celebrity. Visitor numbers at Hangzhou Zoo have hiked up 30% to about 20,000 a day since its sun bears started trending on Chinese (and global) social media, according to the Zhejiang-based Chao News outlet.
The zoo has confirmed that Angela isn’t a human pretending to be a bear. "Our zoo is government-run, so that kind of situation would not happen," a Hangzhou staff member told local media. "The temperature in the summer is nearly 40 degrees [celsius]; if you put on a fur suit, you certainly couldn't last more than a few minutes without lying down."
Sounds like something a human pretending to be a bear would say …