quote of the day: 02/24/03) quote of the day: 02/27/04 Polar bears at Singapore Zoo turn green

Perhaps we could, I dunno, clean the damned enclosure? Or, since these are Arctic animals, provide them with a cool environment to simulate their natural ranges?

SINGAPORE (AP)—It's a wee bit early for St. Patrick's Day, but Singapore Zoo's two polar bears have turned green.

The usually white coats of Sheba and her 13-year-old son, Inuka, turned green a few weeks ago from algae growing in their hollow hair shafts, said Vincent Tan, a spokesman for the zoo.

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

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

Sheba's coat was successfully bleached with hydrogen peroxide 2.5 weeks ago and Inuka will be given a similar treatment in three weeks, 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-colored 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 Web site of Polar Bears International, a nonprofit conservation group based in North America.