Bears or barely humans? Chinese zoo denies its viral bears are people in costumes

A Chinese zoo denies its bears are humans in costumes after a viral debate on social media.

"Some people think I stand like a person," said the Hangzhou zoo, as if in a bear's voice. "It seems you don't understand me very well."

This all started after a "sun bear," named Angela, stood on its hind legs like a human. 

The video of Angela went viral on Chinese social media in late July.

Another video shows one of the zoo's bears waving at a camera.

What is a sunbear?

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A bear enjoys specially prepared durian at Yunnan Zoo ahead of the Lantern Festival on February 4, 2023 in Kunming, Yunnan Province of China. The Lantern Festival falls on February 5 this year. (Photo by Liu Ranyang/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)

The sun bear is the world's smallest bear species, says the website of the San Diego Zoo.

It is roughly half the size of the American black bear. They are about 3½ to 4½ feet long and weigh up to 145 pounds.

However, the zoo says "sun bears" tend to be smaller and look different from other bears.

They are native to Southeast Asia, and are currently listed as a "threatened" species, said the San Diego Zoo. 

While Angela's loose skin was cited by some as a reason they believed the bear was a person in an ill-fitting costume, sun bears actually have loose skin. 

The loose skin is a way the bear can protect itself from predators.

Along with its claws and teeth, "if a predator were to latch on during a struggle, the sun bear can turn in its loose skin and bite its attacker," said the San Diego Zoo. 

Tourists flock to the zoo

FOX News and Chinese news source Chao News reported visitors have increased by about 30% since the video was posted. 

The Hangzhou Zoo added that the extreme temperatures would make it physically impossible for a human to wear a bear suit for a long period of time.

In the summer, given the very hot temperatures, "if you put on a fur suit, you certainly couldn't last more than a few minutes without lying down," noted the zoo.

FOX News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.