A hotel in China is allowing guests to stay alongside huge white polar bears. “The Polar Bear Hotel” opened its doors last Friday, with the promise of round-the-clock bear viewing from all 21 guest rooms.
At ‘Harbin Polar Land’, the hotel’s bedroom windows face onto the bears’ pen, with visitors told the animals are their neighbors 24 hours a day.
One of the videos that have gone viral – shows the bears – a threatened species – photographed by crowds of guests under harsh warm lights, in a space consisting of fake rocks and icicles, and a white painted floor.
The Polar Bear hotel features 21 guest rooms that look out over an indoor enclosure where the bears move across a floor painted to look like an ice floor.
Fake rocks line the courtyard, and fake icicles dangle overhead.
“This hotel is akin to a 21st-century bear pit,” Simon Marsh, the acting director of Britain-based Wild Welfare, said in a statement.
Polar bears need fresh air, space to roam around and the ability to seek out natural stimulation, unbothered by visitors, he said.
A video shared on social media seemed to show a polar bear pacing back and forth in the enclosure, displaying what experts say are clear signs that the animal is distressed.
“Polar bears belong in the Arctic, not in zoos or glass boxes in aquariums — and certainly not in hotels,” Jason Baker, the senior vice president for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia, said in a statement.
“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.”
The hotel has defended keeping the animals in captivity, saying that the polar bears aren’t exclusively housed in the small indoor courtyard. Yang Liu, a spokeswoman for Harbin Polarland, told Reuters that the bears spend time outside when the weather and air quality permits.
But the hotel’s main selling point is 24/7 access to polar bears.
Rooms at the hotel cost between 1,888 and 2,288 yuan – equivalent to $290 to $352 a night.
Even at that high price point, bookings for the initial trial period have completely sold out, Reuters reported.
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