Chinese Zoo Patrons Ask: Is That Sun Bear Real or Human?

Aug 3, 2023

If you came across a bear that could stand on its back legs, walk like a human, and issue public statements, would you think the bear is real or fake? 

That’s a question that started in China . Now it is being asked across the internet.

A zoo in eastern China has been forced to reassure its patrons that its sun bears are real animals and not humans dressed in costumes. That’s after the video of a bear standing on two legs went viral on Chinese social media. A commenter said the bear surely was a person in a bear outfit.

Zoo officials tried for days to ease those suspicions. They cited experts noting that sun bears have loose skin and fur. That's why they might look phony. But that only seemed to make the online skeptics raise more questions.

It didn’t help that at a panda reserve in Sichuan Province, animal keepers sometimes wear panda costumes. They do that to limit the bears’ stress and their problems of human attachment.

So, the zoo issued a statement from the mouth of the bear itself. In the press release, the animal swears she is real.

“Yesterday after work, I received a call from the park manager asking me if I was slacking off and had a biped replace me,” the statement said. “Much to my surprise, I’m just sitting in the mountains and I go viral on the internet…. I want to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A Malayan sun bear!”

The moral here: Real or fake, it’s not wise to argue with a bear.

Image from @Shaoxia33139500 courtesy Weibo.

Reflect: Have you ever seen an animal behave similar to a human? How can we learn more about different animals and their behaviors to better understand and protect them?

A topic sentence is a sentence that summarizes the main idea of a paragraph. Which of the following quotes from the story contains an example of a topic sentence? (Common Core RI.5.5; RI.6.5)
a. “That’s after the video of a bear standing on two legs went viral on Chinese social media.”
b. “Zoo officials tried for days to ease those suspicions.”
c. “In the press release, the animal swears she is real.”
d. “But that only seemed to make the online skeptics raise more questions.”
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