12 May 2007

Zoo in tropical Singapore says it will keep polar bear despite animal rights concerns

You don't need to be an animal rights activist to be angry at how the Singapore Zoo can be so "blatantly uncaring". To paraphrase what they said, "Let's wait for the mother polar bear to die before we embark on any further action". Why does the Zoo need to wait until the mother polar bear die before they would move the young? WHy can't they improve conditions now? What would be the psychological impact of the mother's death to the young? This is despite The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, or Acres, reiterating that the bears' enclosure do not meet international standards.

Is this the kind of message/values we want to impart our young when they visit the Zoo? Forget the welfare of the animals as long as we can gawk on them from the other side of the glass window. The pathetic rhetoric that long life span equals faring well? What kind of twisted logic is that? Long life does not equal to good or even acceptable benchmark of living. Other incisive questions could be ask"how often does the polar bears fall sick?" and or "if they display any further signs of discomfort?"

You can read a published letter to Straits Times from Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) on this issue.

In the published letter on May 7, Acres stated that,

"The current polar-bear enclosure (of the Singapore Zoo)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... Indeed, if Singapore Zoo today wanted to acquire polar bears from Manitoba, the government, by law, could not allow it."


May 4
Associated Press Writer

SINGAPORE (AP) -- The Singapore Zoo said Friday it will keep its male polar bear - reportedly the only polar bear to be born in the tropics - in a reversal of its earlier decision to move it to a temperate country, while animal rights activists urged the zoo to improve conditions in the bear's enclosure.

The zoo's parent company, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said its animal welfare and ethics committee had recommended that Inuka, the 17-year-old bear, remain at the Southeast Asian zoo because of the risks involved in moving it.

"The transport of a full grown polar bear to an institution in a temperate country will be a stressful situation and carries its own share of risks, most extreme being that Inuka may die during transportation or during the introduction process in the new facility," the company said in a statement.

The zoo had said last year that Inuka would be moved to a country with a temperate climate after his mother dies, following a Singapore animal rights group's complaints that the bears were showing signs of distress.

Polar bears normally spend most of their lives on sea ice. In Singapore, Inuka and his 30-year-old mother, Sheba, are kept in an open and partly shaded enclosure that is cooled by misting fans and includes a pool. The bears can also use an off-exhibit air-conditioned den.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, or Acres, said Friday it was surprised by the zoo's decision. It urged the zoo to improve conditions in the bears' enclosure, which it says fails to meet international standards.

"If you go to the zoo today, he is still pacing, which is a very clear sign he is not doing well in this environment," Acres Executive Director Louis Ng said, referring to Inuka.

The group says the enclosure is too small and should not expose the bears to Singapore's yearlong tropical heat.

The zoo says Sheba originally came from a German zoo, and Inuka is the only polar bear to be born in the tropics. Their long life spans, it says, are proof that they are faring well at the zoo. However, it says it will reassess the situation when Sheba dies.

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posted by Charles Tan

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