Sun, moon, grizzly, black, spectacled, sloth: Bears all over the world can stand, shuffle, totter and walk on two legs, though they usually prefer four.

They do not — strictly speaking — talk.

But a zoo in Hangzhou, China, decided that the best way to clear up a conspiracy theory about one of its bears was to release a statement in the bear’s voice.

The confusion appeared to begin in late July, when a video surfaced on the Chinese social media site Weibo of a sun bear named Angela standing on a rock in its zoo enclosure, with ramrod posture on its hind legs.

Charles Robbins at the WSU Bear Center.
Charles Robbins at the WSU Bear Center.

One commenter joked that being the bear was probably someone’s summer job, while another said that the prominent folds on the bear’s fur looked too much like those of a costume. (Experts say sun bears have loose skin that helps them wriggle away from predators.)

Charles Robbins, director of research at the Washington State University Bear Center, agreed with the theory that the bear was begging for food.

“Looks like a sun bear to me,” Dr. Robbins said on Tuesday. “Presumably, the bear has been rewarded with food by the crowd for standing, so it learned very quickly to do just that.”

It’s not unusual for bears to rely on their hind legs, he added. “[We] have a grizzly bear that will stand and walk two-legged.”

Read more:
New York Times
Bangkok Post
The Straits Times