Part of the Harbin Polarland theme park in the city of Harbin in the country’s far northeastern Heilongjiang province, “The Polar Bear Hotel” opened its doors on Friday, with the promise of round-the-clock bear viewing from all 21 guest rooms.
“Whether you’re eating, playing or sleeping, polar bears will keep you company,” Harbin Polarland’s official WeChat account said in a post on Thursday.
Photos and videos from Chinese state media showed people watching two polar bears in an indoor enclosure featuring artificial ice and small pools of water.
But conservationists and animal rights groups have criticized the hotel.
“Polar bears belong in the Arctic, not in zoos or glass boxes in aquariums — and certainly not in hotels,” Jason Baker, senior vice president at animal rights group PETA told Reuters Saturday.
“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.”
In 2016, a shopping mall in the southern city of Guangzhou attracted global condemnation after videos emerged of a polar bear name Pizza, lying on her side in a glass-walled enclosure.
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Yang Liu, a spokeswoman for Harbin Polarland, told Reuters that the indoor area is only part of the bears’ total enclosure, and that they are let outdoors when temperature and air quality permit.
She said interest in staying at the hotel, where rooms range from $290 to $351 per night was “very high,” adding that it is fully booked through a trial period.