A polar bear kept in dire conditions in a glass cage in a Chinese shopping mall will temporarily move back in with his parents in a move animal rights advocates want to make permanent.
Dubbed "The saddest polar bear in the world", three-year-old Pizza came to global awareness after a video emerged of him lying listlessly in the exhibit at the Grandview Mall Aquarium in the city of Guangzhou. Animal rights groups said the video showed "classic signs" of mental anguish from the bear.
The sad vision sparked a Humane Society International (HSI) petition to get Pizza out of the depressing enclosure, with the online call to action reportedly receiving more than 1 million signatures.
HSI said an announcement from the mall indicated the polar bear would be returned to an undisclosed ocean park in North China where he was born, reuniting him with his parents.
In a post on Chinese social media site Weibo, a statement from the mall reportedly said Pizza's move was only temporary while his facility was being renovated.
"Pizza the polar bear has endured a life of deprivation and suffering in his small, artificial, glass-fronted room at the shopping mall, so the news that he's getting out at last makes me very happy and relieved for him," HSI China police expert Peter Li said.
"But we implore the mall to make this a permanent move for Pizza. At last he will feel the sun on his fur, sniff fresh air and see the sky above him. No amount of renovation could ever make a shopping mall a suitable place for this animal, and to send him back now would be cruel and heartless.
"We commend the mall for being gracious enough to listen to Chinese and global voices of concern, and hope they will do the right thing for this poor bear who has already been through enough."