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Inuka on Monday, 23 April 2018 / Photo: gaya chandramohan’s post on Twitter

Inuka, Singapore’s last polar bear put to sleep by WRS as its medical condition worsened

Inuka, Singapore’s last polar bear was put into “deep sleep” under anaesthesia on Wednesday (25 Apr) at about 7am.

“He was not revived,” said Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). “Any form of treatment would have caused him more stress and prolonged his suffering,” Dr Cheng added.

The 27-year-old polar bear had open wounds on his paws and abdomen and had not significantly improved inspite of treatments over the last three weeks. These wounds, which were quite deep, would have caused pain and discomfort to Inuka, and would only be aggravated as his arthritis worsened, WRS said in a statement.

Inuka was found to be less active in recent weeks and didn’t like to play and interact with his keepers as usual. He had been kept under close watch and away from the exhibit since Tuesday.

Mr Mohan said, "In preparation of anaesthesia, he needed to be isolated. We spent almost the entire day with him making sure he was calm. We hand-fed him with water. He was responsive and could still follow signals."

Deputy head keeper and one of Inuka's primary caregivers, Mr Mohan Ponichamy, said the keepers spent the entire night with Inuka, to ensure he was comfortable.

Dr Cheng also said, "From his point of view, he was in deep sleep, surrounded by all his keepers who care deeply about him. Having been born and lived in Singapore for the past 27 years where a whole generation of Singaporeans have grown up with him, we bade him farewell. It is a very sad moment for us ... but I think we have done the right thing by him and he is no longer suffering."

An autopsy will be carried out to fully find out Inuka's condition and it is said that Inuka's body parts may be preserved for educational purposes and a private memorial service will be held on Thursday.

The Singapore Zoo, where Inuka has spent his whole lifetime in, had said in 2006 that it would not bring any more polar bears to Singapore, after discussions with its Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee.

The Zoo said, Inuka was born in the Singapore Zoo in 1990; at 27 years old, in human years Inuka was about 70. He was put on the zoo's geriatric health plan five years ago and monitored closely on a daily basis. Keepers also assessed him visually every week.

Inuka was the first polar bear to be born in the tropics. He had lived beyond the average life expectancy of 15 to 18 years of polar bears in the wild and 25 years in captivity.

Many members of the public posted their grief over the passing of Inuka on social media.

 

gaya chandramohan posted photos of Inuka’s last public appearance on Monday: