Images showing a caged bear chugging a bottle of Coca-Cola handed to it by a zoo visitor have sparked fury.
The bear even appeared to know how to open the bottle with its paws, leading to suggestions that the zoo in Dalian, in China's north-eastern Liaoning Province, has allowed it to happen several times before.
There were also empty bottles of pop visible around the bear's tiny cage.
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The video emerged on social media and shows the beast calmly facing visitors before one passes the bottle into the tiny cage. First the bear takes it with its snout before grasping it with its paws and trying to open it.
It takes the bear just seconds to untwist the lid before gulping the fizzy drink down.
The shocking video was shared on Douyin – China's version of TikTok – and widely criticised by users who were concerned for the bear's health.
One commented: "Why do zoos let visitors pass Coke or other treats to bears, which could potentially kill them?"
Another said: "Can you put an end to this kind of behaviour? I'm truly begging you."
The issue was reported at the same zoo back in 2017. One unnamed visitor was quoted in local media as saying: "Dozens of tourists lined up to feed the animals, and two poor bears kept drinking Coke in the middle."
Staff at the zoo have since spoken out and insist handing the animals drink is strictly prohibited. Instead they blamed tour guides, accusing them of encouraging visitors to engage in the behaviour.
The zoo said: "In response to the problems reported by netizens, the park has issued another notice in the WeChat group of the tour guide not to induce tourists to feed Coke.
"In the future, we will consider adopting hard isolation measures such as adding a net to the cage and setting up fences to prevent tourists from feeding the bears with Coke."
They also promised to strengthen supervision in the future. Local authorities demanded the zoo put a stop to the practice.
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