English zoo confirms: Viral Chinese bears are not people in costume

Zoos from around the globe are chiming in to confirm that a bear at the center of a conspiracy in China is indeed a bear – not a human acting as one.  

Video of a Malayan sun bear standing on its hind legs and waving at a zoo in Hangzhou, in China's eastern Zhejiang province, went viral this week, prompting speculation on social media that the bear was actually a human in costume.

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The zoo denied the rumors, and even wrote a social media post written in the voice of Angela the sun bear. But the theories still spread despite their assurances.

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A sun bear stands in its enclosure at Hangzhou Zoo in Hangzhou, in China's eastern Zhejiang province on August 1, 2023. A Chinese zoo has been forced to deny that its sun bear is actually a human in a costume, after footage of one standing on its hind legs raised online accusations of a furry imposter. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Now, other zoos are stepping up to show support to their Asian peers. Paradise Wildlife Park in the UK, which has its own Malayan sun bears, said the human-like hind leg stance is very normal for sun bears – they have very good balance, the zoo said.

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Sun bears, the smallest bears on Earth, are native to Southeast Asia and considered a threatened species. The zoo in China said they’re about the size of a big dog and weigh an average of 121 pounds.