Trapped in the middle of a shopping centre in China - his white fur contrasting against the unnaturally blue display he is an unwilling part of - this sad polar bear has no escape.
Nowhere to hide from people taking photos – banging on the windows and shouting. Nothing natural, no attempt to create an environment that would meet the needs of any living bear – never mind this vast magnificent animal.
The bear is just one of a number of animals stuck within the Grandview shopping centre in Guangzhou. The facility has been dubbed “the world’s saddest zoo” and alongside two polar bears it also includes six young belugas, five walrus calves, a wolf and arctic foxes.
Chinese netizens have repeatedly asked the public to stay away - effectively shaming the facility from the outset. There have, however, been enough curious visitors to ensure that animals are plagued by a repeated knocking on their window to gain their attention for photographs.
Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:
“There is no excuse for any animal to be trapped this way but it’s widely believed that polar bears are one of the hardest of all animals to effectively provide for in captivity. Polar bears often exhibit ‘stereotypic’ behaviour as captivity restricts their natural instincts such as the need to forage.
“Polar bears require huge amounts of space. Large enough for them to walk, run, climb and hunt. The list of what they need is very long - to a point whereby you can only really answer that what a polar bear really ‘needs’ is to be free to live life in the wild.
“This bear has no peace and nothing natural to take comfort in. What’s more information on how best to try to meet the complex physical and behavioural needs of captive polar bears is freely available and yet this animal has been willfully incarcerated in this way.
“We are calling on the Chinese public not to attend this attraction. We are calling for it to be closed down. This is a bear that suffers for what? For selfies? For shopping?”
Controversy has continued to dog the Grandview aquarium. Amid numerous critical reports it has been claimed that Guangzhou Ocean and Fishery Bureau is investigating the facility following rumours that animals died or were hurt when being moved into the aquarium.
Meanwhile Chinese social media posts have suggested unconfirmed deaths and subsequent replacement of animals. It is also believed that there is little or no on-site vet care.