The mall that is home to Pizza, the “world’s saddest Polar Bear,” has just held an animal parade last weekend in the name of animal education.
The parade included Raccoons, Horses, Squirrel Monkeys, Dogs with colored fur, and Alaskan Malamutes, which were chained, leashed and walked in Grandview Mall, one of the busiest shopping malls in Guangzhou, the capital of the southern Guangdong Province.
The animals, some of them protected species, were surrounded by hundreds of visitors during the parade, who came close for photos or even touched them. Most of the animals came from a five-star sightseeing park in Foshan, a second-tier city near Guangzhou.
The Squirrel Monkey in the display is a primate that is listed as a national protected species. The other animals shouldn’t really be paraded through a mall either—among other reasons, Raccoons can carry rabies, an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans if they are bitten by a rabid animal or have open wounds, according to a US-based animal welfare group Humane Society.
Among the animals are two Polar-Brown Bear hybrids, six young Belugas and five Walrus calves, Animals Asia reported. There’s also at least one Wolf and what appeared to be a group of Arctic Foxes, as well as a whale shark.
The animals appear to have little to no enrichment. The Foxes’ enclosure consists of a small wooden playhouse, a few logs haphazardly thrown on the floor and some dog bowls.
The exhibits appear to be perpetually dark, except for the flashes from tourists’ cameras. One video clip shows a group of visitors banging on the glass to attract the attention of one of the Bears.
The aquarium was then investigated by the Guangzhou Ocean and Fishery Bureau, which found that some animals were injured or died during the move into the aquarium, according to an article in China’s Global Times.
But the aquarium defended itself by saying “their purpose is to popularize science and nurture marine life,” the outlet wrote.
Animals Asia and the China Cetacean Alliance also reached out to Haichang Holdings, China’s largest operator of marine parks and the company that runs the aquarium, to outline the welfare issues at Grandview. The groups said in the following weeks that they never got a response.
But despite Grandview’s denials, it’s clear the aquarium is a nightmare for the animals kept there.
Polar Bears, Belugas and Walruses have been known to exhibit stereotypical behaviour in captivity, compulsive patterns animals develop to cope with psychological stress; belugas do particularly poorly in captivity, and routinely die decades before their natural life span.
“We all need to continue to publicly object to such facilities — and for those living locally, we say, ‘So long as animals are suffering, choose somewhere else to shop,'” he added. “Don’t reward cruelty.'”
The mall’s business model of using animals to lure in customers is backed by Chinese government officials. Grandview said the parade was part of its animal protection efforts in a statement released on (Oct.23):
Guangzhou Grandview Mall Aquarium has been following the principle of “Animals first”, with the ground of educating the public and protecting the diversity of animal species. The mall was built legally with an experienced operation team that has constantly been working on providing a comfortable living environment and animal enrichment activities for the animals.
Last month, an attempt to relocate the three-year-old captive Polar Bear Pizza to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in northern England failed after the mall said that they “have no need for foreign organizations to get involved.”
In the meantime, the animals at Grandview’s cruel menagerie will continue to sit in their cells and stare at those unnatural blue walls.
Just recently Pizza has moved from his cramped cage and returned to the ocean park in northern China where he was born to be reunited with his parents but only TEMPORARILY! Read more here:
Please sign Animals Asia’s petition to close down the Grandview aquarium. SIGN HERE
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