Rights campaigners call for Pizza to be permanently returned to birthplace saying shopping centre conditions unsuitable
Reuters in Beijing
Monday 14 November 2016 09.34 GMT Last modified on Monday 14 November 2016 23.45 GMT
Animal rights groups have called for the permanent return home of “the saddest polar bear in the world”, who will be temporarily moved from a shopping mall aquarium in southern China during an upgrade.
The three-year-old female bear, named Pizza, has become a focus of global attention since Hong Kong-based Animal Asia posted in July an online video of the bear lying on her side in a glass enclosure in Guangzhou.
“Pizza the polar bear will temporarily leave Guangzhou and return to her birthplace,” the Grandview Mall Aquarium said on its account on the social media platform WeChat.
The move was part of ongoing upgrades and “minor alterations” to the mall and the aquarium would remain open during Pizza’s absence, the aquarium said on Sunday.
It did not say when Pizza, who has become known as “the saddest polar bear in the world”, was expected to return from her temporary stay at the zoo in the north-eastern city of Tianjin where she was born.
Animal right groups have called for her stay to be made permanent, saying conditions in the mall were unsuitable.
Sending Pizza back to the mall would be “cruel and heartlxess”, Peter Li, a campaigner at Humane Society International, said. “No amount of renovation could ever make a shopping mall a suitable place for this animal.”
In October, HSI and three Chinese animal rights groups called for the mall to be closed, saying footage of Pizza’s pacing and head-swaying behaviour were evidence of mental decline.