The Ulrikab family: Ulrike, Tobias,
Abraham, Maria (on Ulrike's lap) and Sara (standing).
(c. 1845 - January 13,
1881) was an Inuk from Hebron, Labrador, in the present
day province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, who — along
with his family — was to become a zoo exhibit in
Europe in 1880 as an attraction at the Hamburg, Germany public
along with his wife and two daughters and four other Inuit, had
agreed to become the newest attractions in the Hamburg
On August 26, 1880, all eight Inuit from
Labrador boarded the schooner
(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
became the natural leader of the eight and had agreed to perform in
this fashion to repay a debt of £
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 zoo, where they remained until November 14, 1880, and
then were sent on a European tour.
They were to be vaccinated
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
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
Ulrikab kept a remarkable diary
written in his
; 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 Norwegian trader of ethnographic
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
Greifswald; preface by Alootook
Ipellie; cover design by Alootook Ipellie; photographs by
There are 16 pages of photographs.