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Iceholes: Polar bear hotel outrages animal rights activists

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Winter blunderland.

A Chinese hotel with a polar bear viewing area has been slammed by conservationists, who’ve accused the controversial attraction of animal cruelty.

Polar bears are “neighbors 24 hours a day” at northeastern China’s Harbin Polarland, whose panoramic accommodations overlook a cramped bear enclosure in a setup too outlandish for even a James Bond villain, CTV reported.

Appalling footage shows guests photographing the beasts — the world’s largest land carnivores, weighing in at almost 1,000 pounds each — from the safety of their accommodations as the animals pace about their lit enclosure. A white floor and faux icicles and rocks only accentuate the space’s gaudy atmosphere.

“Whether you’re eating, playing or sleeping, polar bears will keep you company,” Harbin Polarland’s official WeChat account wrote of the hotel, which was established in 2005.

Guests can view the animals from the safety of their rooms.
AFP via Getty Images

Conservationists were quick to accuse Harbin Polarland of “profiting from animals’ misery,” according to CTV.

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“Gaps in China’s wildlife protection law allows businesses to exploit animals without any concern for their welfare,” a spokesperson for Chinese Animal Protection Network, who opted to go unnamed, told Agence France-Presse.

“Polar bears belong in the Arctic, not in zoos or glass boxes in aquariums – and certainly not in hotels,” Jason Baker, senior vice president of PETA Asia, said, adding that their habitat typically spans “thousands of miles” in the wild.

A young visitor checks out a polar bear at China's Harbin Polarland.
A young visitor checks out a polar bear at China’s Harbin Polarland.
AFP via Getty Images

The outrage rippled out to Chinese social media as well. One incensed commenter called the hotel a “panoramic prison for polar bears … haven’t we learned anything about animal cruelty?”

A spokesperson for Harbin Polarland told Reuters that the indoor space is only part of the bears’ habitat and that they’re allowed outside when weather and air quality permit.

This isn’t the first time a Chinese attraction has been accused of unethical treatment of the arctic predators. In 2016, a bear named Pizza was dubbed the world’s saddest polar bear due to its tiny enclosure at a mall aquarium in southern China.

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