A Malayan sun bear that was spotted standing on its hind legs at a zoo in eastern China convinced social media users that the animal was a human in costume.
Users on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo floated conspiracy theories indicating the bear was a person in disguise by noting the animal's seemingly unnatural upright position and loose fur on its backside seen in the video.
Here is a video clip that had visitors wildly speculating they were watching a human performing in a bear costume.
But officials from Hangzhou Zoo, where the bear named "Angela" resides, maintained that people “didn’t understand” the species.
The reps issued a playful statement in the voice of the burdened beast, declaring:
“I’m Angela the sun bear–I got a call after work yesterday from the head of the zoo asking if I was being lazy and skipped work today and found a human to take my place."
“Let me reiterate again to everyone that I am a sun bear–n
ot a black bear, not a dog–a sun bear!”
Take a closer look.
Would you think you were being had as a zoo visitor?
Maybe it's entirely plausible the beast was a man.
X users weighed in with their thoughts.
Yahoo! News noted that while such headlines may be a stretch for readers outside China, various local news in the country have reported on zoos fooling the public into thinking that the wild animals seen in their enclosures were actually common household pets like dogs.
In 2013, a city zoo in the central Henan province infuriated guests when the zoo passed off a Tibetan mastiff–a hairy breed of dog–as a lion.
Visitors were taken aback after approaching the animal in the enclosure marked "mountain lion" and they suddenly heard it bark.
Another zoo in the Sichuan province hoodwinked visitors by placing a golden retriever in an enclosure meant for a lion.
Wildlife biologist Wong Siew Te told CNN that sun bears are a "very forgotten species."
"Most bear species can stand on their hind legs but sun bears stand up high to reach higher ground to investigate their surroundings so there is a purpose to why they do that."
"Female sun bears even hold their cubs with both hands and walk on their feet, very human like, so I guess that’s why people get mistake."
The smallest of the bear species, sun bears do not hibernate and are characterized by their crescent-shaped fur patches on their chests and long tongues enabling them to extract honey–hence their classification as “beruang madu” (honey bear) in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the sun bear as vulnerable and they are considered a protected species in native countries like Malaysia.