Animal rights activists have expressed heavy criticism over a hotel in Heilongjiang province, China where live polar bears are used as a 24/7 attraction to guests.
Located in northern Harbin, the self-described “world’s first polar bear hotel” opened its doors to visitors on March 12.
While staying in one of the hotel’s 21 rooms, guests can view live polar bears in the middle of the building at any time, according to Reuters.
The Polar Bear Hotel is part of the Harbin Polarland theme park. Yang Liu, a spokeswoman for the park, told Reuters the middle enclosure is part of a larger one. She added that the bears may go outside as long as the weather permits.
According to Yang, room rates for the Polar Bear Hotel can be “very high,” and can range from 1,888 to 2,288 yuan ($290-351).
Animal rights activists condemned the hotel for using polar bears, which are considered a vulnerable species, as an attraction.
“Polar bears belong in the Arctic, not in zoos or glass boxes in aquariums – and certainly not in hotels,” Jason Baker, senior vice president at animal rights group PETA, told Reuters. “Polar bears are active for up to 18 hours a day in nature, roaming home ranges that can span thousands of miles, where they enjoy a real life.”
“It is shocking and heart-breaking to see an enclosure like this, in this time and age, that houses polar bears in such appalling environments purely for entertainment,” Anbarasi Boopal, co-CEO of Singapore-based wildlife organization ACRES told Vice.
Although a spokesperson for the park told Vice the bears are in “appropriate air-conditioned environments,” Boopal said this is not enough.
“Barren floors, artificial decorations and 24-hour exposure for guests – all these completely disregard and disrespect these animals who can get very stressed out from the lack of private hiding spaces and will display stereotypic behaviors to cope with stress,” she said.
China has received similar criticism in 2016 after a video emerged of Pizza the polar bear exhibiting distress signs while trapped alone in an enclosure inside a shopping mall in Guangzhou.
Animal rights activists advocated for his release. Two years later, National Geographic reported that the exhibit was shut down and Pizza appeared happier back with his mother in the aquarium that he was born in.
Feature Image via AFP News Agency