Poor Pizza

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

An­i­mal rights groups are urg­ing that Pizza, the world's sad­dest po­lar bear, on dis­play in a shop­ping mall in south­ern China, be sent home for good.

The mall au­thor­i­ties have tem­po­rar­ily moved the bear to a zoo in the north­east­ern city of Tian­jin, its birth­place, where it will be re­united with its par­ents.

The three-year-old bear has be­come the cen­tre of global at­ten­tion since Hong Kong-based An­i­mals Asia posted a video of the an­i­mal liv­ing in­side a glass-walled en­clo­sure in Grand­view Mall Aquar­ium in the city of Guangzhou this year.

Pizza was sent to the zoo to make al­ter­ations to the mall, but the aquar­ium will re­main open dur­ing its ab­sence. The up­grade in­cludes dou­bling the size of the bear's liv­ing area, The Guangzhou Daily re­ported. It is not clear when Pizza is ex­pected to re­turn.

Ac­cord­ing to an­i­mal rights groups, con­di­tions in the mall are un­suit­able for the bear be­cause of cramped liv­ing con­di­tions. It has been dubbed as a "hor­ri­fy­ing" an­i­mal prison. Al­most a mil­lion peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion to close the aquar­ium in Guangzhou where Pizza was kept. Hun­dreds of other Arc­tic an­i­mals are also housed in it.

Re­port­edly, the baby bear has been of­fered a new home by the York­shire Wildlife Park in Doncaster, South York­shire, UK, but the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have re­fused it. Ac­cord­ing to many cam­paign­ers, send­ing Pizza back to the mall would be "cruel and heart­less". Visi­tors bang on the glass to click self­ies with Pizza. China does not have an­i­mal wel­fare laws.

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