Toronto Zoo apologizes for almost giving its new polar bear cub a made-up “Inuit” name

Toronto Zoo apologizes for almost giving its new polar bear cub a made-up “Inuit” name

(Image: Courtesy of the Toronto Zoo) (Image: Courtesy of the Toronto Zoo)
 

Screwing up a clear-cut PR win like the naming of an adorable baby polar bear seems like it should be impossible, but now we know it isn’t. The Toronto Zoo has come under criticism for including “Searik” on a shortlist of names for its new polar bear cub. The issue isn’t the name itself (though it is a slightly weird one); it’s the fact that the Zoo’s website originally identified it as being the Inuit word for “beautiful.”

Eventually, Iqaluit-based news site Nunatsiaq Online broke the bad news: according to former Nunavut commissioner Piita Irniq and many other Inuit, the word “searik” actually has no meaning in Inuktitut. It’s a nonsense word. A Zoo spokesperson initially made matters worse by citing Answers.com in the name’s defence. The Zoo apologized a few days later, by which point the story had already been picked up by the Toronto press.

Searik is still on the shortlist of six potential names for the cub. Members of the public can vote for their favourite on the Zoo’s website until March 3. We suggest “Orson.” He looks like an Orson.