Location: Harbin Polarland
Address: 3 Taiyang Ave, Songbei Qu, Haerbin Shi, Heilongjiang Sheng 150028, China
Telephone: +86 400 870 0909
Website contact form or email link
Exhibit: Arctic Animals Home (aka North Pole Animal’s (sic) Home)
Bering (male). Born in Leningradsky Zoopark, Saint Petersburg, Russia 29 November 2002. Arrived 18 June 2004.
Malygin (male). Born in Leningradsky Zoopark, Saint Petersburg, Russia 29 November 2002. Arrived 18 June 2004.
Opened in 2006 the entire site covers around 16 hectares (40 acres) and is owned and operated by the Dalian Sun Asia Tourism Holding Co. Ltd. who also own and operate Sun Asia Ocean Polar World. Harbin Polarland calls itself “the world’s first polar performing arts amusement park”.
The two bears on display are siblings, two of triplets, the third being Sedov, now in Gelendzhik Safari Park, Russia.
Worryingly, the Ice Festival Harbin website says “You can see the most active polar bear brothers in China fighting furiously and breeding.” Since breeding, in their current “bachelor” circumstances, would be impossible it is to be hoped that “fighting” is equally untrue. This does however give some insight, were any in fact needed, into the raison d’être for these types of theme parks in China. It isn’t about education, environmental awareness, protecting endangered species or animal welfare; it’s all about spectacle and dumbed-down “entertainment”. In short, the animals here are being exploited.
Both bears have been observed pacing and circling repetitively, stereotypical behaviours symptomatic of psychological distress.
In March 2021, and to widespread condemnation, Harbin Polarland announced the opening of an £11 million hotel where guests could watch the facility’s two captive polar bears “round-the-clock from the comfort of their rooms”. The bears, kept captive inside the hotel complex, can be viewed via 33 sheets of tempered glass across all the functional areas of the hotel.
- Reports indicated that the enclosure was far too small. It seems the bears have now been moved to the totally artificial environment of the new hotel, with hard surfaces, bright artificial lighting and fake arctic “scenery”.
- The bears have no regular access to an off-exhibit area and are constantly on display and in each other’s company. They appear to be kept permanently indoors.
- Overall this facility is completely unsuited to the holding of captive polar bears.
- There is no indication of of any properly designed enrichment programme.
- Both bears display stereotypical behaviours, so called “zoochosis”. (Zoochosis is the term used to describe the stereotypical behaviour of animals in captivity. Stereotypic behaviour is defined as a repetitive, invariant behaviour pattern with no obvious goal or function.)
We have no information on the feeding, exercise and medical regimes at Harbin Polarland.
The video below, published in March 2021, gives a clear impression of this appalling facility which harks back to the type of enclosure being built a century, although even then the bears had outdoor access.