Animal rights groups criticize new Chinese hotel with polar bear enclosure

SHANGHAI – A hotel in China has received widespread criticism for allowing guests to sleep next to giant white polar bears.

The “The Polar Bear Hotel” is part of the Harbin Polarland theme park in the city of Harbin in the far northeast of the country, Heilongjiang. It opened on Friday and promises to be 24/7 bear watching from all 21 guest rooms.

“Whether you eat, play or sleep, polar bears will keep you company,” said Harbin Polarland’s official WeChat account in a post on Thursday.

A polar bear in an enclosure in the newly opened polar bear hotel in the Chinese city of Harbin.STRINGER / Reuters

Photos and videos from Chinese state media showed people watching two polar bears in an indoor enclosure with artificial ice and small pools of water.

But conservationists and animal rights groups have criticized the hotel.

“Polar bears belong in the Arctic, not in zoos or glass cases in aquariums – and certainly not in hotels,” Jason Baker, senior vice president of animal rights group PETA, told Reuters on Saturday.

“Polar bears are active in nature for up to 18 hours a day, roaming home areas that can stretch for thousands of kilometers, where they enjoy a real life.”

In 2016, a mall in the southern city of Guangzhou was convicted worldwide after videos of a Icebear Name Pizza, lying on its side in a glass-walled enclosure.

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Yang Liu, a spokeswoman for Harbin Polarland, told Reuters that the indoor area was only part of the bears’ entire enclosure and that they would be left outdoors if the temperature and air quality allowed.

She said interest in staying at the hotel, where rooms range from $ 290 to $ 351 a night, was “very high,” adding that it was fully booked during a trial period.

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