A/N: None of the three women scientists in these essays are real; I made them all up. They're loosely based off of the Trimates, Biruté Galdikas, Jane Goodall, and the late Dian Fossey, but they are not clones of these women, just characters I made up who wrote these essays in-fictional-universe, while I wrote them in reality.
The inukapun is a kind of simian, or primate, more specifically, a great ape. It has a similar appearance to many other apes and monkeys, though it bears the strongest resemblance to the gorillas of the mountains and rainforests of Africa, and the orangutans of the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. In size or general body shape, it resembles an adult gorilla, or an adult male orangutan, and its body bears a shape similar to that of the orangutan, too. Like the orangutan, it too is named by a foreign word that means "person." In the Inuit language, "inukapun" means "the person of the snow."
Because inukapuns live in the tundra and taiga biomes of Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, their fur is thick and white, but their skin beneath is black, to absorb the sun's rays for the sake of warmth, similar to the polar bear. Their diet consists of berries and nuts as plant food, but due to the scarcity of plants with edible food in the north, they are also meat eaters. They will eat a variety of Arctic animals, ranging from the Snowshoe hare and the Arctic fox to the wolverine. It is strong enough to take down animals its own size, or even slightly larger, although it never eats or challenges polar bears to a fight.
I have noticed some fascinating things about these animals in my studies of them over the years. First of all, they are expert hunters, unlike most other primates. Because meat is one of the primary parts of their diet, they know how to stalk animals, they have excellent eyesight and hearing, and they even know how to tell the difference between upwind and downwind when hunting, as well as avoiding being hunted themselves. And sometimes, these clever simians let other animals, including their own prey, kill other animals for their food, and then kill the predators and take both them and their food for their meal. And they habitually eat their food in a tree rather than on the ground.
Another thing is that they are tool users, just like chimpanzees and orangutans. An inukapun can use a strong tree branch as a club when hunting and killing its prey. It has the strength to break off a branch without breaking a sweat, and it can crack the skull of a big animal with pretty good accuracy. As a result of this, humans that approach these animals, such as myself, have to be careful, because these animals can be prone to attack people if scared or threatened, although they very rarely hunt people for food, contrary to the popular old myth of man-eating inukapuns.
Inukapuns can also construct their own homes out of ice and snow, similar to an Eskimo. They set up a round wall of insulated ice and snow around themselves, leave an opening to crawl in and out of it, and curl up in a ball, or together, if there's more than one in the igloo, to keep warm. Contrary to what some might believe from this, however, inukapuns do not hibernate, although they do spend a lot of their time indoors during the coldest and shortest days of the year. During those days, they usually eat their food inside their igloos.
The social life of an inukapun is somewhat limited. Sometimes, they will meet up in pairs or small groups, and stay together for a while, but usually, they are solitary animals, unless they're mothers taking care of babies. They wander the tundra or swing through the trees alone most of the time. This makes them similar to orangutans again, although inukapuns are a little more physically active than orangutans normally are. The mating life of a couple of inukapuns consists of meeting each other in the wild (or a zoo) first, then grasping each others' hands, and sometimes feet, then of fondling each other lovingly, and finally, of a mating cycle that lasts two days, and usually results in the conception and subsequent birth of one baby, or twins.
While not as endangered as many other primates, inukapuns are being protected by law, and I am seeing to it to help enforce those laws myself. Poachers hunt almost everywhere, even in the far north, and many of them kill numerous inukapuns for their valuable fur and hides, or as sport trophies. Some even like to make meat out of inukapuns for humans to eat. And there is also some concern that global warming, which is affecting the northern tundra and taiga forests, could eventually start warming their habitats to the point where the inukapuns cannot survive in the increasingly hot climate.
I must make it clear here, that like all other apes, inukapuns are NOT good pets, and shouldn't be kept in any domestic household. Zoos are displaying these animals, and trying to accommodate them as best they can. But I believe that anyone with a shred of intelligence and common sense can tell that inukapuns deserve better than this. Like chimps, gorillas, and orangutans, they are part of the Great Ape Project, and I advocate its goal to make inukapuns, as well as all other great apes, into citizens with rights like those of man and woman.
So contribute today; donate some money to one of the many funds for inukapun protection, or adopt an inukapun and find it a better home than it has. These animals are among the most fascinating creatures in the colder regions of the world, and many people find it a pleasure that a primate can be comfortable in a cold climate as well.
Dr. Elizabeth Fawning
Primatologist, conservationist, and author