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Wellington Zoo normalizes behavior of Chinese zoo's sun bears amidst accusations of being men in costumes

Wellington Zoo shows solidarity with a Chinese zoo after videos of sun bears standing on hind legs go viral.

Wellington Zoo has expressed its support for a Chinese zoo that had to address concerns that its sun bears were actually humans wearing bear costumes. Videos of one of the bears at the Hangzhou zoo went viral due to its strangely human-like appearance while standing on its hind legs. The zoo released a statement denying the claims that the bears were men in costumes. Wellington mammal keeper Holly McDonald explained that sun bears often exhibit human-like behaviors, such as standing and walking on their hind legs, especially when they want to get a better look at something. Wellington Zoo's sun bear, Sasa, is known to wander around on her hind legs to observe enrichment placed high up in her habitat or to get a better view of her surroundings. McDonald stated that when the bears are still, they don't appear peculiar, but their behavior may seem bizarre to humans. Sun bears also have folds of skin on their backs, which is natural for the species and serves as a form of protection. These folds of skin also aid in their mobility while climbing and navigating through the forest. McDonald emphasized that sun bears are curious animals, with Sasa often watching activities at the snow leopard habitat. The global population of sun bears is declining, primarily due to deforestation. McDonald encouraged people to look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on wood-based products to ensure sustainable sourcing. She highlighted that small actions, such as purchasing sustainable products like toilet paper and pencils, can have a significant impact. McDonald wanted to reassure everyone that the appearance of sun bears is normal and that they are not humans in suits.

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