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SYFY WIRE Cocaine Bear

Zoo Visitors in China Accuse Standing Sun Bear of Being Costumed Human

Malaysian sun bear standing on two legs at China’s Hangzhou Zoo triggers accusations of a human in a suit.

By Cassidy Ward
Cocaine Bear (2023)

As human civilization continues to encroach on the wilderness, wild animals are forced to engage in increasingly unnatural circumstances. Sometimes (and we’re just spit balling here) a bear might encounter a homicidal amount of cocaine in the woods and go on a deadly rampage. (Apropos of nothing, Cocaine Bear is streaming on Peacock!) Other times, a bear might end up in an enclosure for the entertainment of zoo patrons. In either case, a wild animal can be forgiven for behaving a little strangely.

Recently, guests at China’s Hangzhou Zoo caught sight of a Malaysian sun bear acting pretty suspicious, prompting accusations of nefarious zookeepers trying to pull a fast one on visitors. A viral video circulating online shows the sun bear named Angela standing on two legs in her enclosure.

That's No Bear, That's a Man in a Suit!

The video first circulated on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform, before making its way to the rest of the web. The sight of a bear standing on two legs was so bizarre that some visitors and commentors online have accused the zoo of tricking its patrons by replacing the bear with a dog or a person in an ill-fitting suit.

RELATED: Peacock Announces 'Cocaine Bear: The True Story' Documentary To Premiere Alongside Hit Movie

It’s not the most outrageous accusation. Some zoos have been known to put employees in costumes when working with animals, but in those instances, it has been pretty obvious. At least to the humans. Moreover, it does sort of look like a person in a bad bear suit.

Angela stands perfectly erect, just the way a person might, like she was born to stand around. And the skin of her lower back and buttocks bunches up like a jumpsuit scrunched up around the waist. If you squint, you can almost see the person inside, a macrame bear head perched on top of their shoulders. But no, sun bears are just weird.


A zoo in China is denying that its bears are people dressed in costumes, after a video of one standing like a human went viral.

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Sun bears are the world’s smallest bears (no disrespect to koalas, which aren’t actually bears). They measure in at between four and five feet long, or tall when standing up, and they weigh between 27 and 73 kilograms (60 to 160 pounds). Basically, they are firmly in the ballpark of a hapless summer intern forced to wear a bear costume.

Sun bears are named for the golden patches of fur on their chest, which some say resembles the rising Sun. In addition to their slender frames, they have wickedly long tongues and lanky limbs. Their features are the perfect flavor of unusual to make you wonder if what you’re seeing is actually real. It is.

RELATED: 'Cocaine Bear' writer has 'ideas' for an entire franchise of movies about animals doing drugs

While they might look like the awkward teenagers of the forest, they’re pretty good at being sun bears. They are excellent climbers, spending much of the day climbing in trees. They’ve even been known to bed down in the treetops, munching on insects, fruit, and small vertebrates. They also love honey, using their horrifyingly long tongues to slurp it up from the inside of hives.

In an attempt to clear up the confusion, Hangzhou Zoo released a statement, but the statement is in the voice of Angela. Maybe not the right move if you’re trying to convince the world your sun bear isn’t a person in disguise. The statement, translated by Google, reads in part, “My name is Angela the Sun Bear. Yesterday, after I got off work, I received a call from the director, asking me if I was lazy and did not go to work, so I hired Twolegs to replace me… Some people think that I am popular when I stand up. It seems that you don't know me too well. Think about it, there were tourists who thought I was petite and not a bear! Let me emphasize again: I am a sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! It's a sun bear!”

Sure thing, Angela. We believe you.

Catch the drug-addled madness of Cocaine Bear, streaming now on Peacock!