WATCH: China's polar bear themed hotel draws criticism days after opening
A hotel in China claiming to be the “polar bear hotel” has received much criticism days after opening.
The hotel, which is part of Harbin Polarland in Heilongjiang, has been fully booked since its opening. But it has drawn much criticism, with many saying "polar bears do not belong in hotels".
Judging by pictures that went viral, all 21 rooms offer 24/4 viewings of the polar bears. The polar bears seem to be housed in a small space.
According to VICE, Chinese social media users have slammed the hotel for “cruelty” and exploiting the polar bears for profit.
Co-chief executive of Singapore-based wildlife organisation ACRES Anbarasi Boopal told the publication: “It is shocking and heartbreaking to see an enclosure like this, in this time and age, that houses polar bears in such appalling environments purely for entertainment.
“Barren floors, artificial decorations and 24-hour exposure for guests – all these completely disregard and disrespect these animals who can get very stressed out from the lack of private hiding spaces and will display stereotypic behaviours to cope with stress,” she said.
Jason Baker, senior vice president at animal rights group Peta, told Reuters that polar bears belong in the Arctic, not in zoos or glass boxes in aquariums.
“Polar bears are active for up to 18 hours a day in nature, roaming home ranges that can span thousands of kilometres, where they enjoy a real life," he said.
Despite the uproar, Yang Liu, a spokesperson for Harbin Polarland, told Reuters that the indoor area is only part of the bears’ total enclosure. Liu maintains that they are let outdoors when temperature and air quality permit.
She said interest in staying at the hotel, where rooms range from 1 888 to 2 288 yuan (R4 305 to R5 217) a night, was “very high”, adding that it is fully booked through a trial period.