A zoo has received heavy criticism after a video showing one of its brown bears guzzling down a bottle of Coca-Cola handed to it by a tourist emerged on social media.
The zoo, located in Dalian, in north-eastern China’s Liaoning Province, has apparently let the issue go by unnoticed several times so the bear has even learned how to open the bottles with its paws.
In a video filmed by one visitor, the bear is seen sitting in its seemingly tiny cage facing the tourists.
One person then hands it a small bottle full of Coca-Cola through the fence and it readily takes it with its snout, then grabs it with both paws.
In a manner of seconds, the bear manages to untwist the cap and opens the bottle, then gulps down the sugary drink.
And given the numerous empty bottles scattered around in its cage, it seems this was not the first time the bear got handed a soda.
The video attracted widespread attention on Douyin – China’s version of TikTok – with numerous netizens criticising the visitors for giving the animal a drink high in sugar that could harm its health.
Many more blamed the zoo for apparently allowing the reckless behaviour to go on.
The same issue was reported back in 2017 when an unnamed visitor was quoted in local media as saying: “dozens of tourists lined up to feed the animals, and two poor bears kept drinking Coke in the middle.”
One user titled ‘he saba bro’ commented: “Why do zoos let visitors pass Coke or other treats to bears, which could potentially kill them?”
Another user titled ‘big face’ wrote: “Can you put an end to this kind of behaviour? I’m truly begging you.”
Following the online outrage, zoo staff claimed giving the animals sodas is strictly prohibited.
They faulted tour guides who often lead groups into the zoo and suggest they give the bears drinks to provide an interactive experience.
Staff said: “In response to the problems reported by netizens, the park has issued another notice in the WeChat [a Chinese messaging app] group of the tour guide not to induce tourists to feed Coke.
“In the future, we will consider adopting hard isolation measures such as adding a net to the cage and setting up fences to prevent tourists from feeding the bears with Coke.”
The staff added they would also strengthen supervision in the future.
Local authorities also demanded the zoo immediately rectify the situation and reminded travel agencies to notify their employees that giving the animals food and drinks is forbidden.
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Story By: Simona Kitanovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Asia Wire Report
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