"Let me reiterate again to everyone that I am a sun bear."
Officials at China's Hangzhou zoo want you to know that their resident Malayan sun bear is not, in fact, a human in a suit — thank you very much!
As multiple outlets report, a video of a sun bear named Angela looking particularly human-like went viral over the weekend, prompting speculation that the bear was not a bear, but was instead a human in a suit pretending to be a bear.
Sun bears, like humans, are known to stand on their hind legs, and are small — the smallest bears in the world! — and thin in comparison to species like black bears and grizzlies. Skeptical netizens who caught wind of the viral clip, however, took these characteristics as a sign that the zoo might be trying to pull a fast one on zoo-goers, with the conspiracy ultimately becoming so popular that the zoo had to issue a statement to correct the record.
"I'm Angela the sun bear — I got a call after work yesterday from the head of the zoo asking if I was being lazy and skipped work today and found a human to take my place," read a Sunday statement from zoo officials, which was inexplicably written from the bear's perspective, as translated by CNN.
"Let me reiterate again to everyone that I am a sun bear," the statement continued, "not a black bear, not a dog — a sun bear!"
Sure, "Angela"... exactly what a human pretending to be a sun bear would say. (Although, in all seriousness, if a zoo is hoping to dispel the notion that one of its animals isn't a human in a suit, they'd probably do better to not anthropomorphize said animal. Mixed messages.)
Experts have chalked the case of mistaken identity up to a lack of public education about the animals, which are native to the jungles of Southeast Asia.
"This just shows how little the public knows about the species," Wong Siew Te, a wildlife biologist who studies the sun bear and founded the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center in Malaysia, told The Washington Post. "Sun bears stand on their hind feet for a broader view of their surroundings, and those in captivity are used to interacting with humans because they expect food from visitors."
Per WaPo, a zoo employee elsewhere emphasized on national television that the currently scorching summer temperatures in China would be a little much for a human in a leather and fur bear suit to withstand, which is also a fair point. Still, we must admit, does kinda look like she could be a dude in a bear suit. Never say never!
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