Guangzhou, China - More than half a million people have signed an online petition calling for the closure of a theme park in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, where a polar bear is on show.

The Arctic animal, who goes by the name of "Pizza", is the main attraction for people visiting the Grandview shopping centre.

But animal rights groups said conditions in the theme park were incredibly poor and called for the polar bear to moved.

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"This obviously affects him psychologically and behaviourally, which then affects his level of happiness," Karina O'Carroll, of Animals Asia, told Al Jazeera.

The manager of the theme park dismissed allegations that the polar bear was being mistreated, accusing animal rights groups and the international media of conducting a witch-hunt against him and his colleagues.

But many of the spectators also expressed their concern for the bear.

"This place is very small," one woman said. "The bear is playing by himself. He's lonely, and he needs interactions."

The campaign has so far gathered more than 530,000 signatures, but there is no law covering animal welfare in China.

"When people are unaware of the actual trauma to these animals living in conditions like this, they will keep going to see them," O'Carroll said. 

"So we really need to educate the public that facilities such as these cannot meet the natural needs, behaviourally and physically, of the animals." 

Source: Al Jazeera