Tuesday 20 March 2018

Thousands call for the release of Pizza, the world's saddest polar bear

Pizza, the polar bear, is being kept on display in a shopping mall in China Photo: Animals Asia
Pizza, the polar bear, is being kept on display in a shopping mall in China Photo: Animals Asia
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

One of the world’s saddest animals, Pizza the polar bear, lives in an aquarium in a shopping centre in China.

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the closure of the “ocean theme park” located inside the Grandview shopping centre in Southern China.

The aquarium was criticised since it opened in January with one Hong Kong-based animal rights charity denouncing it as a “horrifying animal prison”.

The park’s management rejected claims that Pizza was being mistreated. “The polar bear in the aquarium is very happy,” Li Chengtang, its deputy manager, told the Guangzhou Daily newspaper.

Hong Kong based animal rights group Animals Asia were invited to the aquarium to examine the conditions.

“Trapped in the middle of a shopping centre in China - his white fur contrasting against the unnaturally blue display he is an unwilling part of - this sad polar bear has no escape.

“Nowhere to hide from people taking photos – banging on the windows and shouting. Nothing natural, no attempt to create an environment that would meet the needs of any living bear – never mind this vast magnificent animal,” they said.

Animals Asia is asking people to sign the petition to help get the polar bear removed from the shopping centre and to refrain from visiting the centre.

Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“There is no excuse for any animal to be trapped this way but it’s widely believed that polar bears are one of the hardest of all animals to effectively provide for in captivity. What a polar bear really ‘needs’ is to be free to live life in the wild.

 “The sad truth is, in this instance, we can’t immediately shut down Grandview. And they are unlikely to free this bear, or any of the other animals they house, at least not in the short-term,” Neale admitted, adding: “If our experience has taught us anything – first you open doors, then you open cages.”

According to one campaigning group, China is currently home to at least 39 ocean theme parks. More than a dozen more are scheduled to open over the next two years.

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