Singapore Zoo to keep green polar bears
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2007:
SINGAPORE–Wildlife Reserves Singapore, operators of the
Singapore Zoo, on May 3, 2007 announced that it has reversed a
September 2006 decision to relocate the polar bear Inuka, 17, who
is believed to be the only polar bear ever born in tropical habitat.
“Transporting a full-grown polar bear to an institution in a
temperate country would be stressful, and carries its own share of
risks, the most extreme being that Inuka might die during
transportation or during the introduction process in the new
facility,” Wildlife Reserves Singapore stated.
Singapore Zoo spokespersons reaffirmed that the zoo will no
longer exhibit Arctic and Antarctic animals after the eventual deaths
of Inuka and Sheba, 29, his now quite elderly mother. Few polar
bears live much beyond age 30. Intending to move Inuka to a more
congenial climate upon Sheba’s demise, Singapore Zoo director Fanny
Lai had asked the Rostock Zoo in Germany to help her find a new home
for him. The Rostock Zoo runs the global captive polar bear survival
However, polar bears are in oversupply in captivity, due to
the large numbers who are captured after wandering into northern
Canadian and Russian settlements.
“If Inuka is to remain, we strongly urge the zoo to raise
the polar bears’ living conditions to meet international standards,”
responded Animal Concerns Research and Education Society founder
Louis Ng. “The current enclosure fails to meet the minimum standards
laid out in the Polar Bear Protection Act, which was made law by the
government of Manitoba, Canada, in 2003. These strict guidelines
must be met by any zoo wishing to acquire a polar bear from Manitoba.
“Indeed,” Ng said, “if the Singapore Zoo today wanted to
acquire polar bears from Manitoba, the government, by law, could
not allow it.”
Ng noted that “both Inuka and Sheba are still displaying
abnormal stereotypic behaviors, pacing and swimming in circles,” a
year after Acres published documentation of the behavior compiled
between September and December 2005.
ANIMAL PEOPLE spotlighted the bears’ plight in a July/August
2005 cover feature, based on a site visit, entitled “White tigers,
green polar bears, & maintaining a world-class zoo.” The bears are
green from algae growing in their translucent hair shafts.