The “world’s saddest polar bear” is finally free from his depressing shopping mall prison in Guangzhou — “temporarily” at least.
Back in March, the animal welfare group Animals Asia posted a video starring the “sad” polar bear, followed by a petition calling for the aquarium inside the mall to be closed. That petition has now received over 580,000 signatures
Thanks to international attention following the video and petition, Guangzhou’s Grandview Aquarium has become infamous for its poor treatment of animals. Inside the aquarium, the polar bear named Pizza lives in a cramped environment, beset by tapping tourists anxious to snap pictures of the bear.
However, even a global campaign calling for the bear’s freedom failed to change the mall’s mind. The aquarium has firmly denied that Pizza is sad. Instead, workers claim that it behaves just like any other polar bear and has been healthy and active since arriving at the aquarium at age two. The mall even rejected one British wildlife park’s offer to take Pizza in, insisting that it had no need for “foreign interference.”
Finally, some good news came this weekend when the mall’s Weibo account announced that Pizza would be “temporarily” moved from the shopping mall aquarium while it undergoes renovation. The polar bear will be transferred to another ocean park in northern China where it will be reunited with its parents.
For now, the mall maintains that the move is only temporary and that Pizza will return. Dr Peter Li, China Policy Expert at the Humane Society International had this to say:
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 him. But we implore the mall to make this a permanent move for Pizza. At last he will feel the sun on his fur, sniff fresh air and see the sky above him . No amount of renovation could ever make a shopping mall a suitable place for this animal, and to send him back now would be cruel and heartless. We commend the mall for being gracious enough to listen to Chinese and global voices of concern, and hope they will do the right thing for this poor bear who has already been through enough.
The Grandview Aquarium boasts a very spacious 58,000 square meters of floor space; however, much of that space is taken up by facilities like a restaurant, performance area and souvenir shop. Little is left over to be reserved as the animals’ quarters.
Let’s hope Pizza never has to go back there.