After a video of a polar bear locked up in an enclosure inside a Chinese shopping centre sparked global outcry, action has now been taken to return him to his natural habitat.

Dubbed the "saddest polar bear in the world" the three-year-old bear, named Pizza, was gawped at by shoppers as as he lays listless in the tiny enclosure at the Grandview Aquarium in Guangzhou, China.

In June, Charity Animals Asia started a petition to close Grandview Aquarium garnering over 500,000 signature, while in Doncaster a Yorkshire wildlife park offered to provide a sanctuary for the animal.

Chinese authorities were forced to respond to the global outrage at the sight of the majestic animal reduced to a mere prop for shoppers, who regularly disturbed him in order to pose for selfies.

The mall owners have now reportedly agreed to send him back to the ocean park in northern China where he was born, announcing on the Chinese social media platform, Weibo, that Pizza will be reunited with his parents.

However it is feared that it a 'temporary' move, following speculation that the aquarium is merely being renovated and made larger ahead of his return.

Dr Peter Li, from Humane Society International, said it would be "cruel and heartless" to send the bear into his natural environment only to return him to the glass enclosure again.

"Pizza the polar bear 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," he told Mail Online.

"But we implore the mall to make this a permanent move for Pizza and to not condemn him to return. 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," he added.

Qin Xiaona, director of Capital Animal Welfare Association, said: "It's a good decision, the right decision for Pizza, but it's not the end.

"Temporary is not good enough. Now we hope that Grandview will learn from this episode and move Pizza permanently so that he never again has to endure the dreadful life in a shopping mall."