Future of 'world’s saddest polar bear' in limbo

Locked in a tank at a Chinese mall aquarium, Pizza the polar bear made headlines after people took note of his sad-looking face and the unnatural tank he was housed in.

Photo by: Animals Asia
Photo by: Animals Asia

Pizza the polar bear in his enclosure in China. Image: Animals Asia.

A Chinese mall aquarium keeping a sad-looking polar bear named Pizza said on Tuesday it has "no need" for foreign interference, after activists offered to move the animal to a British zoo.

Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based animal welfare charity organisation, created a petition calling for the closure of the Grandview Aquarium in the Chinese city of Guangzhou that attracted almost half a million signatures.

Pizza made headlines earlier this year when people took note of his unnatural tank and began calling him the “world’s saddest polar bear”.

Animals Asia soon after began the petition to shut down the Grandview Center in Guangzhou where Pizza lives, and it’s received over 575,000 signatures.

Photos of Pizza shared widely on social media show the bear lying vacantly on the ground in a gloomy, windowless room while visitors crowd around taking photos.

Pizza the polar bear in his enclosure in China at the Grandview Mall Aquarium in Guangzhou. Image: Animals Asia.

Activists said the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in England had offered to adopt Pizza on condition that he was not replaced by another polar bear, adding the zoo would not pay for the animal due to "fear that any funds could be used to buy more animals".

But the zoo declined to comment or confirm the offer while the aquarium operator said no one had contacted him about taking the bear, adding they "have no need for foreign organisations to get involved".

"Yorkshire Wildlife Park has not contacted us," said the general manager of the aquarium.

"We are a legally compliant aquarium, run according to Chinese standards and protecting animal rights. In the future we will strengthen the protection of animal rights and welfare," he added.

Pizza the polar bear lies vacantly in his enclosure in China at the Grandview Mall Aquarium in Guangzhou. Image: YouTube.

Pizza the polar bear in his enclosure in China at the Grandview Mall Aquarium in Guangzhou. Image: YouTube.

The cost of transferring the large, living carnivore nearly 10,000 kilometres from Guangzhou to Doncaster, England "will be raised if the offer is accepted", Animals Asia said.

The activists said they are now pushing for a meeting with the aquarium in hopes of getting a response to their offer, adding they will draw up a bill if officials agree to have Pizza delivered.

Pizza the polar bear is seen at the Grandview Mall Aquarium in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, July 27, 2016. Image: Reuters.

The animal welfare director of Animals Asia, Dave Neale, said in a statement that the aquarium "have the chance to put their mistake right" and end the crush of negative media attention.

The group has been publicising Pizza's plight since the beginning of the year.

TRTWorld and agencies