(NEXSTAR) – A zoo in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou has been forced to deny that its bears are just human beings in elaborate costumes after a video clip showing one of the animals went viral.
Internet users reportedly began joking about the legitimacy of the Hangzhou Zoo’s bears after photos of the animal — a sun bear — began circulating on social media, the Associated Press reported.
Video clips of the Hangzhou Zoo’s bear exhibit also began popping up on China’s popular Weibo social-media platform, showing one of the bears standing on its hind legs. An accumulation of furry skin on the hind area of the bear led to further observations that the bear’s “butt folds” looked like “wrinkled” leather pants, some Weibo users said.
“Imagine you get a job at the zoo and you have to be the sun bear,” a Twitter user joked, commenting on a post that noted how “lanky and uncanny” the sun bear appears compared to other bear species.
On Monday, the Hangzhou Zoo responded to the controversy from the perspective of “Angela,” one of the zoo’s sun bears.
“Some people think that I am a person when I stand up,” wrote “Angela” the sun bear, per an online translation of the zoo’s official social-media account. “It seems that you don’t know me too well.”
The post went on to reiterate that the Hangzhou Zoo’s sun bears are, in fact, actual bears — just a smaller species that onlookers may not be as familiar with.
Sun bears, which are native to Southeast Asia, are generally believed to be the smallest bear species, KHON previously reported. In addition to being less massive as other bears, sun bears are also unlike other species as they don’t hibernate but rather nourish themselves with year-round food sources.