Photo Credit: STR
World's First 'Polar Bear Hotel' Opens In China Amid Backlash
Harbin Polarland, a hotel that has dubbed itself the world’s first polar bear hotel, recently opened in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, China, according to CNN. The hotel, which is part of the Harbin Polarland theme park, offers 21 rooms, each of which overlook an indoor pit where two polar bears are kept.
The enclosure is painted to resemble an arctic environment, with pools, fake rocks and ice.
“Whether you’re eating, playing or sleeping, polar bears will keep you company,” the hotel said on its official WeChat account. Room rates for a night’s stay at the hotel range from 1,888 to 2,288 yuan ( around $290 to $350 USD) per night and initial bookings have completely sold out.
However, animal conservation organizations argue that the captivity of the bears is inhumane.
“Polar bears belong in the Arctic, said PETA vice president Jason Baker, “not in zoos or glass boxes in aquariums–and certainly not in hotels. Polar bears are active for up to 18 hours a day in nature, roaming home ranges that can span thousands of miles, where they enjoy a real life.”
Simon Marsh, acting director of animal welfare organization Wild Welfare, said, “This hotel is akin to a 21st-century bear pit.” He added that the bears require fresh air and more space, as well as the ability to roam freely.
According to Yang Liu, a spokeswoman for the hotel, the bears have access to the outdoors “when temperature and air quality permit.” Still, a Change.org petition aims to have the hotel shut down.
This is not the first time China has come under fire for its treatment of wild animals. Although the country’s animal theme parks and aquariums have been successful and popular attractions, animal rights groups have accused them of keeping the animals in living conditions that are cramped and unnatural.
A Guangzhou mall garnered outrage back in 2016 for keeping bears, whales, and walruses captive in too-small enclosures. China has also drawn criticism for its farming of bear bile.