‘Word’s saddest polar bear’ may have been granted temporary relief

Pizza the bear is kept in an aquarium so that visitors to a Chinese mall can pose for selfies with the animal.
Image: Animals asia

LONDON It appears that Pizza the polar bear a.k.a. “the world’s saddest polar bear” may have found some relief.

Pizza’s sad plight living in a small aquarium in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has sparked worldwide condemnation, and various animal rights organisations have led the way in campaigning for the bear’s permanent relocation to a more suitable environment.

Now, following a farewell party hosted by Grandview Mall where the bear is infamously kept on display, Pizza has been temporarily relocated from his cramped quarters at the Chinese shopping centre’s ocean theme park.

However, to where and for how long remain to be seen.

In a statement, China policy specialist at Humane Society International Peter Li implored the mall to make the move from its aquarium a permanent one.

Li said, “At last he will feel the sun on his fur, sniff fresh air and see the sky above him,” but further notes, “No amount of renovation could ever make a shopping mall a suitable place for this animal, and to send him back now would be cruel and heartless.”

While Li believes pressure from the international community has contributed to the mall’s decision to temporarily move Pizza, he stresses that the bear’s declining health has likely also been a contributing factor.

Last month, Humane Society International and its Chinese partner group VShine released footage that showed signs of Pizza’s increasing agitation and mental decline, which Li believes may have forced Grandview to act as the bear became too sick for public view.

Grandview has persistently denied that Pizza’s welfare is at stake.

Image: AP / bi zhiyi

A translation of the mall’s statement released on the Chinese social media platform Weibo indicates that the move is indeed a temporary one intended to allow for renovations.

The notice elaborates that in the meantime Pizza “will return to the embrace of his mom and dad,” which many believe refers to Qingdao Underwater World aquarium, a facility in northeast China. However, according to The New York Times, a spokesperson there denied the report, and that Pizza’s parents are kept there.

Weibo user Frederica Law said: “!” (Don’t come back! Go back to nature, the city is not suitable for you!” Another user added, “” (Spare the polar bear, we want to see the mall set a good example.).”

Pizza has displayed signs of extreme distress, including repetitive pacing and head swaying.

Image: animals asia

Mashable will update this article if news about Pizza’s whereabouts becomes known.

BONUS: The UK offers Pizza a home

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