A captive polar bear dubbed “the world’s saddest polar bear” because of its decrepit living conditions will finally be relocated from a Guangzhou mall criticized for its poor treatment of animals.
The Grandview Aquarium said on Sunday that “Pizza” the polar bear will be transferred back to the ocean park where she was born while the mall facilities undergo renovations.
“Parting is always sad, but you will have a comforting home to come back to,” the park said on Sina Weibo, adding that, “She will return to the embrace of his mom and dad” at an ocean park in northern China, where her parents are from.
The aquarium – already home to beluga whales, walrus calves, a wolf and arctic foxes – has been planning to expand its facilities since September.382789
Despite the People’s Daily reporting the development as a “happy ending”, animal welfare groups remain guarded about the latest development in Pizza’s welfare.
Qin Xiaona, director of the Beijing Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA), said: “It’s a good decision, the right decision for Pizza, but it’s not the end. Temporary is not good enough. Now we hope that Grandview will learn from this episode and move Pizza permanently so that she never again has to endure the dreadful life in a shopping mall.”
Humane Society International (HSI) China policy specialist Peter Li said, “Pizza the polar bear has endured a life of deprivation and suffering in his small, artificial, glass-fronted room at the shopping mall, so the news that he’s getting out at last makes me very happy and relieved for her. “At last she will feel the sun on her fur, sniff fresh air and see the sky above her.”At last she will feel the sun on her fur, sniff fresh air and see the sky above her.”
This past March, a video of Pizza lying morosely on the floor of her enclosure captured international attention, leading to a petition with over a million signatures calling for her release. HSI said the polar bar was exhibiting distress signs such as head swaying and repetitive pacing.
This past year, a UK zoo with a specially-designed polar bear exhibit had offered to take Pizza, but Grandview declined saying there was “no need for foreign organisations to get involved.”
Pizza has been kept at the Grandview Aquarium in a 120 square-meter windowless room with no natural light or air. One side of her enclosure is a glass wall through which visitors can take a selfie with the Arctic animal.
Meng Zhihui, manager of the Arctic animal section, said Pizza was being cared for according to standards upheld by Chinese zoos. “It costs us 50,000 yuan ($7,496) to feed her every month.
Even the snow is mixed with honey,” Meng said, adding that Pizza’s diet included cooked beef, salmon, corn buns, eggs, and different kinds of fruit. Meng said the aquarium had given Pizza tires to play with, and walked dogs past her enclosure to excite her.
Aquariums and animal theme parks have become very popular in Chinese malls.
At the present time, China does not have a national law governing the welfare of animals. This means there are no government-mandated rules on how to keep animals in captivity, nor are there any substantial anti-cruelty laws to protect animals.