The internet is up in arms as news of a captive polar bear living in a mall in China has spurred outrage, Mashable reports.
An online petition was filed in March by Animals Asia, a non-profit organization focused on helping animals, imploring for the release of a white polar bear that’s currently being kept in Guangzhou, China. The mall zoo also houses another polar bear, six beluga whales, five walrus calves, arctic foxes and a wolf.
The animals are currently at the Grandview Shopping Centre in a tourist attraction called the Grandview Aquarium, where visitors can take selfies with them.
The attraction has been dubbed “the world’s saddest zoo.”
The polar bear in question became the subject of controversy after several photos and videos meant to draw attention to the animal show at the mall, went viral. The polar bear was shown looking depressed and lethargic as people constantly banged on its glass cage and shouted to get its attention for photos.
Chinese netizens have asked their own public to boycott the venue, but this has not deterred visitors curious to get a look at the animals, Animals Asia says.
Dave Neale, animal welfare director for Animals Asia, said, “There is no excuse for any animal to be trapped this way.” Animal rights activists are incensed at the treatment of the animals, and the fact that they have been taken out of their natural habitats to be kept in an enclosed building, saying that their current conditions are detrimental to their health.
Animals Asia’s online petition is not only for the release of the animals, but the closure and boycott of Grandview Aquarium as well. The petition has garnered over 150,000 signatures since it started.
Just a few weeks ago, another polar bear at an Argentine zoo, called “the world’s saddest polar bear,” passed away. The bear, named Arturo, had been living alone for four years, developing symptoms of depression after its partner died from cancer.