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Bear or human? China Zoo denying allegations of bears being humans in costume

A standing sun bear. (Provided Photo/CNN/Hangzhou Zoo)

HONG KONG (WISH) — A zoo in eastern China has denied some speculation that some of the zoo’s bears were just people dressed in costumes.

The zoo released a statement from the perspective of its sun bear, Angela, after a video went viral of the bear standing on its hind legs looking very human-like.

In the statement, “Angela” says, “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. Let me reiterate again to everyone that I am a sun bear – not a black bear, not a dog – a sun bear!”

It might seem unlikely, but zoos in China have received public ridicule in the past for trying to pass off pets like dogs as wild animals.

In 2013, a city zoo in the central Henan province angered visitors by trying to pass off a Tibetan Mastiff dog as a lion. Visitors who had approached the enclosure expressed shock when they heard the “lion” bark.

Visitors at another Chinese zoo, in Sichuan province, were shocked to discover a golden retriever sitting in a cage labeled as an African lion enclosure.

The viral story has brought attention to the need to preserve sun bears.

According to CNN, sun bears are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are a protected species in native countries like Malaysia.

“Not enough people know about sun bears – they are a very forgotten species,” Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center founder and wildlife biologist Wong Siew Te told CNN.

“Most bear species can stand on their hind legs but sun bears stand up high to reach higher ground to investigate their surroundings so there is a purpose to why they do that. Female sun bears even hold their cubs with both hands and walk on their feet, very human-like, so I guess that’s why people get mistaken,” said Wong.