- Posted June 24, 2014 by
A Polar Bear in the Tropics
This is a photo of Inuka, the polar bear at the Singapore zoo's "Frozen Tundra" area on Sunday. His fur has turned green from algae, a result of the tropical temperatures and humidity. He is laying flat, trying to stay cool. The average temperature in Singapore in the summer is 31 C, or 87 degrees Fahrenheit with an average humidity of 80%. This is a far cry from the normal conditions polar bears are used to in the arctic.
In 2006, after many concerns regarding the heat and lack of proper conditions for the polar bear in captivity were raised by a local group, ACRES, the Singapore zoo agreed to not keep any more polar bears at the Singapore zoo after Inuka dies. It was not until 2013, that the 23 year old bear was given a new area, with a colder pool, and a slightly larger air conditioned “cave” (or more accurately, a closet) in order to cool off. The new area is supposedly climate controlled, but it is difficult to see evidence of this at the zoo. The top of the cage is covered by light nets and has cooling fans, but is still open-air.
The Singapore zoo is very proud of Inuka, calling him the “first polar bear born in the tropics". Ironically, the Singapore zoo has many educational cards around Inuka’s area detailing about the effects of global warming and how it is sending the polar bears to extinction. At the same time, they are keeping a polar bear in tropical conditions, with green algae growing on its fur, and laying in the heat flat, trying to cool. It is a cruel display, and although it is not the zoo's intent, it shows exactly how lack of concern for the environment can lead to suffering.