Koalas make a name for themselves at Singapore Zoo

Two of four koalas at the Singapore Zoo.
Two of four koalas at the Singapore Zoo.PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Koala Sayang, formally known as Idalia, enjoys a meal of eucalyptus leaves.
Koala Sayang, formally known as Idalia, enjoys a meal of eucalyptus leaves.PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Call them Cantik, Sayang, Nila and Manja. The koalas at the Singapore Zoo picked new local nicknames for themselves on Wednesday (Aug 5).

Formerly known as Chan, Idalia, Paddle and Pellita, the marsupials' new monickers were chosen from about 250 submissions that the zoo received during its koala naming campaign last month.

The suggestions were then narrowed down to a choice of two for each koala.

At the name selection ceremony, zookeepers offered each koala two stalks of eucalyptus leaves with the name choices attached on tags. The one they chose determined their nicknames.

Chan chose Cantik, which means "beautiful" in Malay. The smallest koala, Idalia picked Sayang, which means "love" in Malay and is also used as a term of endearment.

Paddle, the oldest koala, chose Nila, which pays tribute to Sang Nila Utama, while Pellita chose Manja, which is Malay for "affectionate".

The four female koalas have been hugely popular with visitors since their arrival in April this year.

They are on loan to Singapore from their native Australia as a gift to celebrate Singapore's 50 years of independence and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

They will be at the Singapore Zoo until January 2016.

osadaj@sph.com.sg