Take out Pizza 

By on October 27, 2016 with 17 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Inside a glass-fronted enclosure at a bustling mall in China, a polar bear named “Pizza” paces around restlessly, swinging his head in frustration over and over. He finds neither comfort nor companionship; only throngs of gawking people, mainly kids, running back and forth, banging on the glass for his attention as they take selfies. It’s just one creature in a world with billions at risk, but it’s heartbreaking nonetheless. There are hot lights overhead and a fake plastic iceberg, but no companions, no offspring, and no snow or ice or arctic winds or currents. He spends hours a day sniffing and tapping at the air vent — his only hint of an outside world that is farther away than he can possibly know.

Pizza’s condition is indicative of a growing trend in China where captive animals are put on display at shopping malls to entice customers and to trump an online-shopping experience. At the Grandview Shopping Mall, where Pizza is caged, there are allegedly thousands of animals belonging to some 500 species, including an arctic fox, walruses, and beluga whales, all kept in similarly deficient conditions.

Humane Society International this week released footage showing the sad conditions that Pizza lives in, even as 50 Chinese animal welfare organizations wrote a letter to Governor Zhu Xiaodan of Guangzhou, China, to demand that Pizza, who has been dubbed the world’s “saddest polar bear,” be rehomed. In the open letter, the animal groups urged the governor to take action to close the exhibits and find happier homes for all the animals. They also appealed to the nation’s industrial and commercial sectors to help stop this cruel trend of displaying animals at malls.

HSI, Care2, Born Free Foundation, and the Hong-Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation have also collected one million signatures on a petition asking that Pizza and the other animals at the Grandview Mall be rehomed.

The footage of Pizza was obtained in September by an investigator hired by HSI who visited the mall and took photos and video of the animals trapped there. The footage shows disturbing evidence that Pizza is exhibiting the repetitive behavior typical of animals struggling to cope with traumatic, stressful situations. According to Professor Alistair MacMillan, who worked with HSI on this case, these behaviors — including head swaying and repetitive pacing — are evidence of frustration and mental decline.

Polar bears are notoriously difficult to keep in captivity — their welfare needs are very challenging to meet in captive situations. Our experts believe Pizza’s welfare is at serious risk and that unless he is rehomed somewhere that is more suited to meet his welfare needs, he will slip further and further into mental decline and depression.

In September, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom offered Pizza a home in its 10-acre enclosure, but Chinese authorities refused the offer, stating the bear will not leave China. In fact, China has made “foreign interference” an excuse for its lack of action, and so it is now strategically important that Chinese animal groups take the lead on this issue. This week, at a press conference in Beijing, our Chinese partner groups, VShine and Capital Animal Welfare Association, made it clear that they are ready and able to negotiate for the animals’ release. There is no recourse under the law because China currently has no animal protection laws to stop animals like these being subjected to this kind of deprivation.

The Grandview Mall has tried to make the case that the animals in its exhibit are part of a legitimate educational aquarium experience, but nothing could be further from the truth. The only lesson that visitors are learning is that human beings are in fact capable of delirious cruelty, with animals forced to endure a monotonous existence in entirely unsuitable environments. Pizza is a sentient, emotionally complex being. He doesn’t exist for the amusement of shoppers.

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Humane Society International, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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17 Comments

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  1. Sandi Brown says:

    Please, Honorable Chinese Leaders, imagine yourself in this enclosure – alone – bored – and so homesick for your family and homeland. Ask yourself if you would want someone to rescue you from this glass prison before you lost your mind. Then think of Pizza as he paces endlessly, searching for freedom.

    The experts say this polar bear is slowly developing mental problems and becoming unhealthier day by day. Is this poor, sad, lonely bear really what you want your children to think of when they imagine this majestic, powerful creature?

    These magnificient bears are slowly disappearing from this earth as the ice that gives them life is disappearing. Please, please give this bear the life it deserves. It is the humane thing to do.

  2. Susan says:

    Inhumane
    Sad the way animals are treated

  3. Samantha Platt says:

    This is heartbreaking to know this beautiful animal is being treated in such a cruel and horrendous way. I don’t understand humans, animals would never torture another living being this way. I am ashamed to be one of them.

  4. Keri says:

    Animals are not our for the taking. Pizza is suffering on every level. Let her go! I hate to see when she is able to rebel and hurt someone and then you kill her. Today is a sad day and that will be an even more horrific one. Give her peace please.

  5. Siglinde Fulton says:

    Free Pizza!! No living being deserves to live like this…

  6. Joyce Duarte says:

    What is wrong with some humans? Shameful.

  7. Suzanne flood says:

    Who would do this to such a beautiful animal……

  8. Lesley Warren says:

    Please remove Pizza from the mall where he is and give him a better life. Polar Bears do not belong in such a place. It’s torture. No living being deserves to be held behind any cage or wall nor do they deserve to be kept alone. This breaks my heart. It’s Wrong!

  9. Clodagh Byrnes says:

    This treatment of Pizza the polar bear and so many more just like him is soul destroying to watch, and we are only looking. Have we walked in his shoes?? No. But we all know this is wrong on so any levels. It’s says a lot about the horrible disgusting humans that think this imprisonment & slavery of wild animals is ok.
    IT IS NOT OK. Free PIZZA NOW.

  10. Crusader says:

    The United States government MUST take a position on this issue and put pressure on China to release Pizza and other animals imprisoned! I hope someone can convince Obama to come out publicly about this topic.

  11. Pam Moorman says:

    Please let Pizza go. She’s going crazy in that little box she needs to be with other polar bears in the fresh air. Please release her or she might die!

  12. Jacqueline Carr says:

    When I was a child there was a park in our city with a small outdoor cage. In that cage a bear was imprisoned. I used to sit and watch the poor creature and feel so helpless and cry for him. Fifty years later still think about that bear and feel so very sad that he suffered so and had no life. Reading about poor Pizza is so horrifying. What is wrong with humans! I am so thankful that at least today there are so many people who do care and are fighting for Pizza and all like him who suffer. They must succeed! He must be freed from this hellish life which is no life.

  13. Pattie says:

    I am brought to tears after reading this! Please, please stop the cruelty!
    Our United States government MUST take a position on this issue and put pressure on China to release Pizza and other animals imprisoned! I hope someone can convince Obama or the new president to come out publicly about this topic!

  14. Alisa Brock says:

    How sad and horrible! I had no idea that China was keeping animals trapped in terribless conditions. How else can we try to get Pizza to the park in the UK?

  15. GABRIELA VARGAS says:

    NO PODEMOS SEGUIR CON EL CAUTIVERIO DE ANIMALES QUE NO TIENEN UNA VIDA DIGNA, SINO DE MISERIA, ES CONTRA LA LEY, CONTRA LA NATURALEZA Y ES TERRIBLEMENTE DESTRUCTIVO SEGUIR PERMITIENDO LA INVASIÓN Y LOS SECUESTROS HACIA LA NATURALEZA. LA LEY TIENE QUE DETENER ESTOS TERRIBLES CRÍMENES DE FORMA DETERMINANTE.

  16. Phala Bowles says:

    You must answer to God.

  17. Ette says:

    What is the latest on Pizza? I have heard that he’s been temporarily relocated while his prison gets an upgrade. I hope he never has to go back there.

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