Beijing: A Chinese aquarium holding a forlorn-looking polar bear named Pizza said 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 organisation, created a petition calling for the closure of the Grandview aquarium in the Chinese city of Guangzhou that attracted half a million signatures.
Photos of Pizza shared widely on social media show the bear lying listlessly on the ground in a gloomy, windowless room while visitors crowd around taking photos on their cell phones.
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, a man surnamed Fan who refused to give his full name.
“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.
The cost of transferring the large, living carnivore nearly 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) 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.
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.