He’s been dubbed the ‘saddest polar bear in the world’ after spending almost all of his life in a Chinese shopping mall.
But ‘Pizza’ looks set to finally see the sky and reunite with his parents as the mall undergoes renovations.
The polar bear rose to notoriety when a video on social media exposed the depressing and inhumane living conditions he faced at the Grandview Mall in Guangzhou.
Along with hundreds of other arctic animals, Pizza was forced to live his life completely indoors in a small, confined glass-walled enclosure, where he was little more than a subject of millions of ethically questionable #selfies.
The shopping centre announced that the building is being “optimized and upgraded” – saying in a statement:
“Pizza, the ‘bear baby’ that a million customers have enjoyed, will say a temporary farewell to everyone for a while, to return to where he was born and to his daddy and mommy.”
Chinese animal welfare activists were thrilled about the move. Peter Li, from Humane Society International said,
“At last he will feel the sun on his fur, sniff fresh air and see the sky above him in the company of his mum and dad.”
However, many are concerned that the move will only be a temporary one – and are urging the mall to make his move permanent.
“Pizza the polar bear has endured a life of deprivation and suffering in his small, artificial glass-fronted room at the shopping mall, so the news that he’s getting out at last makes me very happy and relieved for him,” Li continued.
“We implore the mall to make this a permanent move for Pizza and to not condemn him to return.”
Many animal welfare organisations around the world have demanded that Grandview closes down, but the lack of any serious regulation in the country has made this task incredibly difficult.