Zoo In China Is Guilty But It’s Not What Many Think


There is a crime in this video – and it’s not a human imposter pretending to be an Indonesian sun bear.

Only in China would a zoo be suspected of having a person disguised as an animal. That’s because it’s happened there. In 2013 a zoo in China was even caught attempting to pass off a dog as a lion.

Being rare and elusive, most folks aren’t familiar with Indonesia sun bears. They are the smallest of the bear species but as Grizzly Bears, Sloth Bears or Polar Bears can attack humans without a lot of provocation, so do these formidable bears.

They also tend to be slim, but carry extra or loose layers loose fur, which supports the flexibility required to climb trees as they are the most arboreal of bears. They have long claws which makes both climbing easier when grabbing on to the bark or digging into the bark or the earth for insects, and to use for defense or attacking other animals.

Back in the days when animals were trained for circuses, bears were “trained” to act like this one in the video. Zoo visitors have unwittingly trained for this behavior. You can even see people tossing marshmallows or something to the bear. The bear learned to stand to encourage further attention, no different than a dog begging at the dinner table, and with that more food lobbed in his direction.

The crime is allowing visitors to feed the bears. Obviously, this action modifies the bears’ natural behavior, but more importantly isn’t healthy.

When in Indonesia years ago to track Orangutans for Dr. Birute Galdikas’ research, we were warned about the most dangerous animal in the forest. Sure surprising a male Orangutan on the ground is not suggested or reaching out for a branch that turns out to be a snake isn’t what you call lucky or dealing with marauding driver ants or biting leeches. However, were told to always make noise when walking through the canopy to avoid surprising a sun bear, the most dangerous and generally ill-tempered inhabitant of the forest. Having said that, the bears want to avoid people even more than we wanted to avoid them. Once I caught a distant glimpse – and I was fine with it being a distant glimpse.