Alarmed Chinese netizens have expressed their concern over an undernourished brown bear from a zoo in China after its photos began making the rounds on local social media platforms.
In the photos, the bear is shown looking so skinny that its bones are showing under its skin. Initially posted on Weibo on June 19, photos of the bear quickly spread across multiple social media platforms, leaving many netizens worried about its well-being.
After the images of the bear’s sorry state went viral, Xinxiang People’s Park maintained that there should be no reason for concern as the animal is reportedly well fed and has regular medical checkups.
Most of the social media comments berated the zoo for allowing the animal to be too thin. According to Daily Mail, many did not buy the zoo management’s defense.
“Healthy? I don’t think so. Don’t lie to me,” a netizen countered.
“All skinny bones. And you say it is healthy?” another one chimed in.
Others simply expressed concern over the well-being of the thin bear.
“I do not recognize the bear, the wild bear is not so thin,” a Weibo user wrote.
“The bear’s health is definitely a cause for concern,” Animals Asia Founder and CEO Jill Robinson, told Daily Mail. “She is skeletal, in poor condition, and clearly begging for food when you look at her posture in the concrete enclosure as she is looking up at tourists in the hope that food will be thrown down.”
“She is either not being fed appropriately or has a medical condition that needs urgent attention.”
Responding to the outrage and mounting criticisms, the zoo released a statement insisting that “the bear’s diet is normal. There is no lack of food.”
It further explained: “The brown bear is just one year old and is rapidly growing, not like an adult bear hoarding fat. Its bones are growing too quickly. The bear is currently in its shedding hair period, taking off its thick hair. In the hot summer, bears shed their hair making their mouths look more slender, making the small brown bear looking thin.”
Despite the reasoning, PETA Asia Vice President of International Campaigns Jason Baker emphasized the type of conditions the bears are often subjected to inside zoo enclosures.
“While bears in the wild spend their time exploring the diverse terrain, foraging for food, and digging in the soft earth, captive bears, like the emaciated bear living at Xinxiang People’s Park, are usually confined to cramped and barren concrete pits,” Baker was quoted as saying.
“Although there are no penalties for the neglect or abuse of animals in zoos in China, the bear’s suffering must not be ignored and the zoo needs to listen to netizens who are deeply concerned about the bear’s health and welfare by immediately improving his conditions.”
He further explained that placing bears inside zoos immediately places a huge impact on the bears’ health and well-being.
“Zoos cannot meet the unique environmental, nutritional, climate, and social needs of the species they hold captive,” he added.