Zoo’s two polar bears turn green

LIFE in the balmy tropics has made polar bears Inuka and Sheba go green with algae. 

The usually white coats of Sheba and her 13-year-old son Inuka, Singapore Zoo's two polar bears, turned green a few weeks ago from algae growing in their hollow hair shafts, said zoo spokesman Vincent Tan. 

“The harmless algae is the result of Singapore's warm and humid tropical conditions,” Tan said. 

Polar bears have clear hair shafts which appear white because they reflect light. 

Sheba's coat was successfully bleached with hydrogen peroxide two and a half weeks ago and Inuka would be given a similar treatment in three weeks' time, Tan said. 

The zoo wanted to observe Sheba's reaction to the treatment before bleaching Inuka, he said. 

For now, Inuka remains mottled with bright grass-coloured splotches behind his ears, on his back and legs. 

Three polar bears at the San Diego Zoo developed similarly green coats in 1979 but were cured with a salt solution, according to the website of Polar Bears International, a non-profit conservation group based in North America. – AP

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