Following massive global pressure, Pizza the polar bear was today returned to the ocean park in northern China where he was born to be reunited with his parents.
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A petition of one million signatures was handed into the Chinese authorities last month from animal lovers all over the world calling for Pizza and others trapped in the Grandview Shopping mall to be saved.
In a statement posted online, mall bosses called Pizza's move a temporary one while the aquarium is renovated, but campaigners hope it will be made permanent.
During recent months, undercover experts have been into the mall, in Guangzhou, south China, and seen Pizza's deterioration as he shows signs of serious depression.
Dr Peter Li, China Policy Expert at Humane Society International, said: "Pizza 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.
"At last he will feel the sun on his fur, sniff fresh air and see the sky above him in the company of his mum and dad.
"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 warned the mall that soon his decline would be so apparent that it would be difficult to have him on public display. Without a doubt, it has had to act due to tremendous pressure from Chinese and international campaigners."
A bid by the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, in Doncaster, to bring Pizza to Britain was blocked by the authorities, who say he will never leave China.There are an estimated 500 species living on the sixth floor of the shopping centre, including Arctic foxes, a walrus and a Beluga whale.
Animal rights crusader Qin Xiaona, director of the Capital Animal Welfare Association, said: "We still want to see the aquarium closed once and for all and to see all the animals moved.
"Enslaving wild animals in shopping malls will not promote sales.
"These places are an embarrassment for China, so we and the world are watching to see what the mall does next."