Zoo denies allegations star attraction is man in a bear costume
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A zoo has been forced to deny allegations that one of its bears is actually a human wearing a costume.
However, Hangzhou Zoo in China has had to issue a bizarre statement clarifying that a bear at the zoo is, in fact, a real bear, and not just an unfortunate employee wearing a bear costume.
The odd claims arose online after a video was posted on Twitter featuring the bear in its enclosure appearing to interact with the public. One shot, in particular, shows the back of the bear and skin folds at the bottom of its back, just over its bottom.
There is also one which looks at the movements of the bear and implies that they are almost like how you might expect a human to move.
All this is put forward as evidence that the bear is fact an elaborate costume being worn by an employee.
The rumours have gained so much traction online that the zoo has even felt the need to clarify that no, this is actually a real bear. They highlight the high temperatures of 40C which would make heating such a costume unbearable (geddit?) for a human to wear.
The bear is a species called the sun bear. You may have encountered this particular species online as they are renowned for their unusual appearance.
Sun bears can look a bit odd, with a strange-shaped body and face which does make them look a bit like a puppet. But they are very real indeed.
Some people pointed out other elements in the video which suggest that the bear is in fact real. One pointed out that the bear's mouth and lips could be seen to be moving very dextrously, which would take an extremely expensive puppet to be able to emulate.
You might even say so expensive you may as well just get a real bear.
Other videos of Sun Bears online show them engaging in similar behaviour to that shown in the video. One shows a bear standing on its hind legs in the enclosure much like in the video.
That's not to say there's no precedent for zoos to try and pass off things as other animals. In 2019 a zoo in China sparked controversy after it emerged that two keepers had dressed as gorillas and were leaping around the enclosure.
However, with those videos, it's pretty obvious that they're suits.