Life in captivity is really no life at all for wild animals. Although we might try our hardest to replicate their natural environment, nothing can compare to the physical and mental stimulation that comes with life in the wild. This is a lesson that was painfully learned with the passing of Arturo the polar bear who spent the majority of his life languishing in an Argentinian zoo. This poor bear was deemed the “world’s saddest” polar bear but it appears that in his stead, a new captive bear seems to have taken his place.

The Grandview Aquarium opened in a mall located in Guangzhou, China, in January 2016 and only a few months after, it was deemed “the world’s saddest zoo.” Among the animals housed in this attraction are two polar-brown bear hybrids, six young beluga whales and five walrus calves. Photographs featuring sickly looking animals in extremely small enclosures, all devoid of any form of entertainment or enrichment for the animals, quickly circulated throughout the media. In response, animal welfare and rescue organization Animals Asia launched a campaign to close the  and give the animals proper care. Unfortunately, Grandview Aqaurium has remained open.


Looking at the animals in this facility, we can’t help but wonder how anyone could think this is “entertaining”?


The polar bear kept in the zoo can easily be describe as the “new” saddest polar bear in the world, a title we sorely hoped would end with the death of Arturo.




Animals Asia writes, “Trapped in the middle of a shopping centre in China – his white fur contrasting against the unnaturally blue display he is an unwilling part of – this sad polar bear has no escape. Nowhere to hide from people taking photos – banging on the windows and shouting. Nothing natural, no attempt to create an environment that would meet the needs of any living bear – never mind this vast magnificent animal.”





Polar bears are endangered in their natural environment, largely thanks to human causes, and it doesn’t appear that this facility has even attempted to give his poor bear any semblance of a natural environment. We never thought we’d say this, but at LEAST Arturo had a swimming pool!


What You Can Do!

The fact is, none of these animals belong in captivity and we all have the power to put an end to this exploitation and cruelty. Zoos and other facilities that profit from holding animals captive can only run if they have ticket sales. Once we stop paying to see animals in captivity, this cruelty can stop.

Hope is not lost for these animals, however. Animals Asia was called in by the owners of Grandview to consult about the condition of the animals. David Neale, Animals Asia’s Welfare Director, explains that they have worked with other facilties in a similar manner and eventually convinced them to shut their doors and release the animals to sanctuaries. At this time, it appears as if Grandview has no intention of closing due to high attendance. Recognizing this, Animals Asia is working to get the basic needs met for these captive animals and will continue to put pressure on the facility and the public to put an end to this attraction. This can only start to happen if people stop paying to see these animals. With this in mind, we can all help by sharing this article far and wide to discourage visitors to the Grandview Aquarium. You can also take action by signing Animals Asia’s petition to shut down the facility.


There is no reason why any animal should be named the “saddest in the world” because of our own doing.

All image source: Animals Asia