In an unusual development, a video has gone viral on social media showing a sun bear in a Chinese Zoo standing up on its hind legs, resembling a human standing in a human costume.
Following speculations, the Hangzhou Zoo, has issued a statement denying that some of its bears are humans in costumes and insisted they were real, the Guardian reported.
"When it comes to bears, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge figure and amazing power … But not all bears are behemoths and danger personified. We Malayan bears are petite, the smallest bear in the world," said the Hangzhou zoo, from the perspective of Angela, a Malaysian sun bear.
“Some people think I stand like a person. It seems you don’t understand me very well,” further read the statement.
The videos triggered online speculations after people noticed the slender legs and folds of fur in the body that made the animal seem like it was a human in disguise of a bear costume.
A spokesperson said, in an audio recording on WeChat, that such impersonations cannot happen in a state-run facility. He said that a human in a fur bear costume "would not last more than a few minutes before collapsing" due to the 40 degrees Celsius temperature..
According to the zoo, sun bears have the same size of large dogs, at most 1.3 metres tall on their hind legs, compared with up to 2.8 metres for grizzly bears and other species.
An employee of the zoo said that visits are being arranged for reporters to see the bears. Many zoos in China have been accused of passing off dogs as wolves or African cats, and donkeys painted to resemble zebras.
The animal in the video is "definitely real", says Dr Ashleigh Marshall, an expert from Chester Zoo, adding that the folds help protect the bears from predators, as it allows the bear to turn around in their skin and fight back if they are attacked by a large animal.