Toronto Zoo apologizes for fake Inuit word on polar bear name list

Feb. 19, 2014 at 5:59 PM
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TORONTO, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The Toronto Zoo apologized for including a fake Inuit word on its list of potential names for its polar bear cub.

Piita Irniq, former commissioner of the Nunavut territory, said he was looking over the zoo's list of potential names for the 3-month-old bear next week when he spotted "Searik," which the zoo's website said was "Inuit for beautiful," the Toronto Star reported Wednesday.

Irniq said the word is not from the Inuit language.

"There's no meaning, absolutely no meaning to the name," he said.

A zoo spokeswoman initially told the Nunatsiaq News, Iqaluit, Nunavut, officials had performed research "to confirm the meaning was correct." The spokeswoman cited a Wiki Answers page.

The zoo reversed course Monday, with Jennifer Tracey, the zoo's senior director of marketing and communications, issuing an apology.

"Quite frankly, when the source was brought to my attention, that's when I said, 'We have to fix this,'" Tracey said.

"It was certainly never our intention to offend anyone," Tracey said. "I want to reach out and make this better."

Tracey said definitions are no longer listed alongside the names, which still includes Searik "because people like the name."

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