His name is Pizza and he lives in a Chinese mall where visitors pose for selfies next to his glass enclosure and knock loudly to get his attention. Such is life when you're the "world's saddest polar bear," per the Daily Express. Pizza, a polar bear hybrid, is one of 500 animals living at Grandview Aquarium inside a Guangzhou shopping center, where critics say animals are housed in dimly lit rooms with few if any natural surroundings. PETA calls it "the saddest zoo in the world," asserting that animals "suffer from neglect, poor care, lack of stimulation, and lack of natural light." Foxes and wolves have been spotted pacing in their enclosures and scratching at walls, the group says.
Animals Asia first drew international attention to the zoo earlier this year when it started a petition calling for the facility to be closed, reports Mashable and the Huffington Post. More than 270,000 people have added their signatures, leading zoo officials to adopt some of the group's recommendations, including putting snow in the polar bear enclosures, per a release. But more "significant changes" are needed, says Animals Asia's animal welfare director, Dave Neale. "Keeping animals in this way is not acceptable." Neale, who recently toured the facility and says Animals Asia has been asked to advise it, notes, "It is difficult for me to work with people that have chosen to house animals such as this bear in such poor conditions." But "if our experience has taught us anything—first you open doors, then you open cages." (A much-maligned zoo in Buenos Aires is shutting its doors.)