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Chinese ‘polar bear hotel’ opens to full bookings, criticism




(CNN) – A hotel has opened that presents itself as the world’s first “polar bear hotel” Chinathe northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which attracts guests and critics for its central feature: the living polar bears.
The Polar Bear Hotel, part of the Harbin Polarland Theme Park in the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang, Harbin, opened its doors on Friday with the promise of seeing the polar bear all day from the 21 rooms.

“Whether you eat, play or sleep, polar bears will keep you company,” Harbin Polarland’s official WeChat account said in a March 11 post.

Photos and videos of Chinese state media showed people looking at two polar bears in an indoor enclosure with artificial ice and small water pools.

Yang Liu, a spokesman for Harbin Polarland, told Reuters that the indoor area is only part of the bear’s total enclosure and that they are left outdoors when temperature and air quality allow.

He said the interest in staying at the hotel, where rooms range from 1,888 to 2,288 yuan ($ 290.10 to $ 351.56) per night, was “very high,” adding that is fully booked during a trial period.

People are taking pictures of a polar bear inside a newly opened hotel in Harbin.

People are taking pictures of a polar bear inside a newly opened hotel in Harbin.

STR / AFP / Getty Images

Conservationists criticized the hotel.

“Polar bears belong to the Arctic, not to zoos or aquarium glass boxes, and certainly not to hotels,” Jason Baker, senior vice president of animal advocacy group PETA, told Reuters. “Polar bears are active for up to 18 hours a day in nature, traversing domestic areas that can span thousands of miles where they enjoy real life.”

In 2016, a shopping mall in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou attracted worldwide condemnation after videos appeared of a polar bear, Pizza, lying next to it in an enclosure with glass walls.

Harbin Polarland, established in late 2005, calls itself the world’s first polar performing arts amusement park.