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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

First polar bear born in the tropics back with new neighbours, the raccoon dogs and wolverines


 The first polar bear born in the tropics, Singapore Zoo’s very own Inuka, moved into his new Frozen Tundra home today during a grand ‘housecooling’ party. The 2,700 sq metre exhibit features climate controlled resting areas, an expanded pool for Inuka to swim in, and two new sections for Inuka’s new neighbours: raccoon dogs and wolverines.

Modelled closely after the arctic habitat, some of the innovative features of Frozen Tundra that help replicate the chilly climate of the arctic include a new, larger pool filled with giant ice blocks so Inuka can enjoy refreshing swims, and an ice cave where he can retire to, to enjoy a polar siesta. Natural substrates have also been incorporated to provide him with a rich and varied home.

Frozen Tundra is the result of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS)’s commitment to upgrade Inuka’s living space and also reinforce WRS’ vision of providing visitors with interactive and enriching wildlife exhibits that provide for greater knowledge of the natural world, including of the climate, wildlife and issues facing the arctic habitat.

“At Singapore Zoo, we remain committed to not only providing a fun and beautiful park where families can bond over the wonders of mother nature, but also to our vision of engaging and educating our visitors about the natural world, the animals that share our planet and their habitats.  This is a core value of Singapore Zoo,” said Mr Lee Meng Tat, CEO, WRS. “Those values and goals go hand in hand with our deep love of our animal friends here at Singapore Zoo, and Inuka is a shining example of that love.”

Dr Lee Boon Yang, Chairman of SPH and SPH Foundation, officiated the launch ceremony of Frozen Tundra with Mr Lee and WRS board member Mr Chia Ngiang Hong. SPH Foundation is a long-time adopter of Inuka.

The launch of Frozen Tundra also showcases Inuka’s new neighbours, the raccoon dogs and wolverines. Raccoon dogs, also known as tanuki, are native to East Asia. Frozen Tundra’s raccoon dogs are named Pom and Poko and come from Japan’s Asahiyama Zoo.

Wolverines are the largest land-dwelling species of the weasel family. Native across the Northern Hemisphere, wolverines have adapted to a wide range of habitats. Frozen Tundra’s wolverines are a brother and sister pair named Boris and Ivana from Russia’s Novosibirsk Zoo. 

The idea of creating a new habitat for Inuka was conceptualised in 2006, and Frozen Tundra was designed to not only give Inuka a bigger space but more importantly, create a new exhibit that provides visitors a window into the arctic world from which Inuka’s ancestors came from. Native to the Arctic Circle, polar bears are the world’s largest land carnivore and adult males can weigh up to 700 kg.

Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the bear occupies a narrow ecological niche and preys almost exclusively on seals. Polar bears hunt mostly on ice floes in winter months, and retreating sea ice due to global warming has resulted in the diminishing of their hunting grounds and food sources. If global temperatures continue to rise, polar bears may become extinct across most of their range within a hundred years.

Frozen Tundra opens daily to the public from 29 May 2013.  Visiting hours are from 8.30am to 6pm.