A hotel that calls itself the “world’s first polar bear hotel” has drawn criticisms for its central feature: live polar bears. The Polar Bear Hotel, part of the Harbin Polarland theme park in Heilongjiang’s capital and largest city, Harbin, opened its doors on Friday with the promise of round-the-clock polar bear viewing from all 21 guest rooms.
Photos and videos show the polar bears in an indoor enclosure featuring fake ice and small pools of water. There are 33 pieces of tempered glass acting as a barrier between the hotel guests and the polar bears. “Whether you’re eating, playing or sleeping, polar bears will keep you company,” Harbin Polarland’s official WeChat account said in a post dated Thursday. Reports are there that the interest in staying at the hotel was “very high,” adding that the rooms were fully booked during the trial period. The rooms range from 1,888 yuan to 2,288 yuan (US$290.10 to US$351.56) per night. 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. Conservationists were quick to criticize 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. Harbin Polarland, established in late 2005, calls itself the world’s first polar performing arts amusement park.