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The Ulrikab family: Ulrike, Tobias, Abraham, Maria (on Ulrike's lap) and Sara (standing).
Abraham Ulrikab (c. 1845 - January 13, 1881) was an Inuk from Hebronmarker, Labrador, in the present day province of Newfoundland and Labradormarker, Canadamarker, who — along with his family — was to become a zoo exhibit in Europe in 1880 as an attraction at the Hamburgmarker, Germanymarker public zoo.

Ulrikab, along with his wife and two daughters and four other Inuit, had agreed to become the newest attractions in the Hamburg Zoomarker. On August 26, 1880, all eight Inuit from Labrador boarded the schooner Eisbär (which means "polar bear" in German) to take part in a bizarre display of the native way of the Inuit in northern communities. As instructed by zoo keepers, they simply had to walk, talk, wear their fur parkas and throw the odd harpoon to earn their keep.

The eight Inuit were from two families. Their approximate ages upon arrival in Europe were as follows:
  • Ulrikab's family
    • Abraham, 35,
    • Ulrike, 24, his wife
    • Sara, 4, daughter
    • Maria, infant daughter
    • Tobias, 20, Ulrike's unmarried nephew.
  • The other family, whose surname is unknown
    • Terrianiak, about 40, father
    • Paingo, as old as 50, wife
    • Noggasak, their teenage daughter.


Ulrikab was literate, an accomplished violin player and a devout Christian. He became the natural leader of the eight and had agreed to perform in this fashion to repay a debt of £10 to the Moravian mission in Hebron. Within weeks of arriving in Europe and taking up residence in the zoo, the families realized they had made a mistake in coming.

The Inuit arrived in Hamburg on September 24, 1880 and were immediately put on display at the zoo. On October 2, 1880 they were moved to the Berlin zoomarker, where they remained until November 14, 1880, and then were sent on a European tour. They were to be vaccinated against smallpox prior to leaving Canada, but as there were no facilities in Hebron, it fell to the Germans to do this. It was never done. The first to fall ill were misdiagnosed by the doctors as having a non-fatal malady. Not until three of the Inuit had died did the remaining Inuit get vaccinated; that was January 1, 1881. But it was too late — by January 16, 1881, five months after their arrival, they were all dead.

Ulrikab kept a remarkable diary written in his native Inuktitut; it was among Abraham's possessions which was sent back to the Moravian mission in Hebron after his death. In the diary he described in vivid detail the hardships and humiliation each of the Inuit had endured and the terrible beatings received by Tobias, who was beaten with a dogwhip by their master, Adrian Jacobsen, a Norwegianmarker trader of ethnographic artifacts.

Abraham died January 13, and his wife, Ulrike, the last to live, died January 16, 1881. The location of their graves is unknown.

"The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab" was published in a trade paperback edition in September 2005. It was edited and translated by Hartmut Lutz at the University of Greifswaldmarker; preface by Alootook Ipellie; cover design by Alootook Ipellie; photographs by Hans-Ludwig Blohm. There are 16 pages of photographs.

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