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:
This was Inuka on Monday - it was the last time he was seen by the public. He was swimming around, eating treats and basking in his ice cave. Rest In Peace, dear Inuka #RIPInuka pic.twitter.com/pGqEIJZMze
— gaya chandramohan (@gayaCNA) April 25, 2018
I cant believe just in january i was seeing Inuka almost everyday... rest in peace. I'll miss you pic.twitter.com/QyBqcsndSS
— Love, Grae (@Grassuke) April 25, 2018
Goodbye Inuka! 😢 Thank you for living an honorable life for the sake of all our children growing up in Singapore. You deserve to be free now! Safe Travels up in Heaven! 👋🏼 My dog Shaggy will be there to welcome you! Have a blast! https://t.co/czqWmJJ9br
— Trixie Liao (@trixieliao) April 25, 2018
RIP Inuka... you were smtg i look forward to every time i visit the zoo, from a kid to an adult.. 🌻❤️
— നായർ (@vanethanair) April 25, 2018
Dear Inuka, you had a wonderful life here in Singapore, even if you never knew the polar ice caps and the cold of the Arctic. May you be free of all pain and suffering and flash photography in heaven. Everyone misses you. #RIPInuka #Inuka #PolarBear pic.twitter.com/yo8UJLjHyc
— Dr Elmi Zulkarnain Osman (@elmizulkarnain) April 25, 2018
Can’t imagine the zookeepers who cared for Inuka on a daily basis, I mean if it were me I’d just say excuse me, (refusing to see her final moments) go out and cry and take compassionate leave
— nadia (@farahn4dia) April 25, 2018
All the posts about Inuka are making me crei 😭😭😭💔💔💔
— Nur Hidayah (@HiddHiddyHidden) April 25, 2018
On a slightly more sombre note:
I had the privilege to assist in the care of Inuka during my time at the zoo. He will be missed greatly.
— REMUS・レムス (@remusdevinkoh) April 25, 2018
Still vividly remember reporting on Inuka’s brand new home at the Singapore Zoo back in 2013. Was excited to be up close with this tropical polar bear and snapped these pics then. Sad to hear he had to be put down today. #RIPInuka https://t.co/iujQnxhdDz pic.twitter.com/LjUVdLAlG7
— Olivia Siong (@OliviaSiongCNA) April 25, 2018
Singapore born captive Polar Bear "We bade farewell to our beloved senior polar bear Inuka this morning. Despite the best efforts of his care team, Inuka's condition worsened and the difficult but necessary decision not to revive him from anesthesia was made on humane grounds." pic.twitter.com/LBfTBEKeZU
— Aidle (@aidle) April 25, 2018
— Ten10 (@catelane1) April 25, 2018
Love you and goodbye Inuka. You were the saddest-looking bear but so loved. Honored to serve the zoo & meet beautiful creatures like you. pic.twitter.com/gZGLO73Uvh
— Athoherah (@ohhyeeaaa) April 25, 2018
Inuka is now reunited with Sheeba and Nanook. He is not a lonely polar bear in the tropics anymore. Sleep well, Silent Stalker ❤️
— ash (@AshTiwarieee) April 25, 2018
Reading these get-well-soon cards written to Inuka by innocent kids made me 😢 pic.twitter.com/kSVSfM4YpO
— Chua Hong Yi (@ReddieC) April 23, 2018
I know they say don’t give human attributes to animals but Inuka loooks tired. 😑💔💔💔 pic.twitter.com/ynWxRdmGtw
— Mister Monday (@thebordersea) April 21, 2018
Sister brought nephew to the zoo to visit Inuka. He doesn’t look well but there many get well cards for South East Asia’s only polar bear. pic.twitter.com/RNB8ecUhlH
— Yoong (@pseudolokun) April 21, 2018