An arctic exhibit at a Guangzhou shopping mall is facing boycott calls after animal rights activists shared video footage that showed a polar bear at the facility living in miserable conditions.
Netizens were outraged at what some what have described as the world’s worst zoo that opened at the Grandview shopping center in January.
Among the animals housed at the facility, which is located in Guangzhou’s Tianhe district, is a polar bear that is made to live in prison-like conditions in a small enclosure.
Animal welfare groups pointed out that the bear, as well as other animals such as arctic foxes and wolves that are housed in the zoo, have not only been taken out of their natural habitat, they also suffer as the enclosures offer little by way of enrichment, comfort or relief.
In March, Animals Asia, an animal rights group, launched an online petition calling for the release of the polar bear and demanding the closure of the arctic exhibit.
As of now, almost 140,000 people have signed up on the petition.
But the aquarium operator has failed to respond to the calls and take remedial action.
Some Hong Kong reporters who visited the facility recently found that the polar bear’s situation seemed to be getting worse.
The animal was seen lying on the floor all day and appeared to have little energy, HK01.com reported.
Questioned about the listless animal, an aquarium staff member is said to have told a visitor that the bear is having “winter sleep”, according to Apple Daily.
Meanwhile, observers also noted that the animal was getting scared due to constant noise and flash lights from the zoo visitors.
The arctic exhibit is said to feature a total of 500 species of animals, some of which are endangered. Among the “attractions” are beluga whales and whale sharks.
Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, told HK01.com that some aquarium operators are just focused on making money without caring about the animals.
Chloe Chow contributed to this article.
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