There has been a 30% rise in visitors to a zoo where a video of a bear led to people asking if it was actually a member of staff in a costume.
Around 20,000 people a day have been going to Hangzhou Zoo in eastern China, Chinese media has said, after a video of a sun bear named Angela was published last week.
The film, seen by millions, shows the creature standing tall on the edge of its enclosure, holding its paws by its side and seemingly looking at the zoo’s visitors.
It was trending on Chinese social media over the weekend and prompted users to ask how the bear could stand so upright on slender legs and had what looked like skin bagging around its hips.
Some wondered if it was a human being in a badly-fitting bear suit.
One visitor, who gave his surname as You, said: “After seeing this bear standing up on the internet, I wanted to see how it looks in real life, so I came here.”
Qian Ming told a Hangzhou TV station she “specially took the high-speed train from Suzhou to come over to see the bear,” after seeing the video and added: “We travelled overnight last night to get here. The bears are so cute.”
But a user on the Weibo microblogging platform, was unconvinced, saying: “If this is fake it deserves an Oscar for special effects.”
The zoo itself has said Angela is “definitely not a human”.
Zoo denies its bear is fake
Leaving bash for Ya Ya the giant panda ahead of return to China
Zoo boss accused of killing four goats and serving them at party
Monkeys vanish from Dallas Zoo after string of bizarre incidents
“Our zoo is government-run, so that kind of situation would not happen,” a member of staff said, in posts on its official WeChat account and in interviews with local media on Monday.
“The temperature in the summer is nearly 40 degrees, if you put on a fur suit, you certainly couldn’t last more than a few minutes without lying down.”
In a message written as if it came from a sun bear named Angela, it said: “Some people think I stand like a person.
“It seems you don’t understand me very well.
“When it comes to bears, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge figure and astonishing power… But not all bears are behemoths and danger personified.”
Her species, the statement added, are “petite, the smallest bear in the world”.
Sun bears are the size of large dogs, standing at most 50 inches (1.3m) tall on their hind legs, compared with up to nine feet (2.8m) for grizzlies and other species, according to the zoo.