Last February, animal rights’ organization Animals Asia brought Pizza the polar bear to the world’s attention. Pizza’s situation was heartbreaking, if all-too-common: the bear lived in a small, poorly-lit enclosure in a mall in China, and “suffered for selfies.” 

Read more: Pizza, the Saddest Polar Bear Ever, Lives in a Mall in China

Reports of the bear’s psychological deterioration and videos like this one sparked international outrage. Since February, more than 800,000 people have signed a petition to close the Grandview Aquarium in the Guangzhou Mall, where Pizza had been housed until yesterday. 

For Pizza, there is finally a sprinkling of good news. At least temporarily, his freedom has been delivered. The BBC reports that Pizza has been returned an undisclosed ocean park in North China where his parents are said to live. The zoo is calling it a temporary move while the bear’s 430 square-foot exhibit is renovated. 

“At last he will feel the sun on his fur, sniff fresh air and see the sky above him,” said Peter Li, China policy specialist at Humane Society International, who called for Pizza’s move to be permanent.  

Pizza’s inhumane treatment at the Guangzhou Aquarium is not unique, as wolves, beluga whales, and walrus calves are also housed in the shopping mall in spaces Animals Asia has called “woefully inadequate.” 

Read more: This Gorilla Escaped a London Zoo — But Had a Different Fate Than Harambe

The aquarium has not specified how it will improve Pizza’s space, saying only that it will be “optimized and upgraded.” Before shipping the bear off to an undisclosed location, the Guangzhou Aquarium hosted a “Pizza Fan Club ‘Give Back’ Day,” a ‘Pizza party,’ where mall patrons were given a gift for paying to see the bear and following the aquarium on social media. 

Until further notice, animal rights organizers will continue to put aquarium administrators in the hot seat. 

“Temporary is not good enough,” said Mdm Qin, the director of Capital Animal Welfare Association. “Now we hope that Grandview will learn from this episode and move Pizza permanently so that he never again has to endure the dreadful life in a shopping mall.” 

Pizza has been offered sanctuary in other outdoor enclosures, such as this one in Yorkshire, but the Guangzhou Aquarium has declined to ship the bear elsewhere permanently. It remains to be seen if any other zoo can bring Pizza and the other animals at Guangzhou into the fold. 


Defend the Planet

Pizza, the Polar Bear Who Lives Alone in a Mall in China, Temporarily Reunited With His Parents

By Phineas Rueckert