10-day birthday celebration for Singapore's polar bear Inuka kicks off with photo exhibition

Inuka was given a birthday "cake" made of ice blocks, whipped cream and fruits such as watermelon, kiwis, strawberries and apples.
Inuka was given a birthday "cake" made of ice blocks, whipped cream and fruits such as watermelon, kiwis, strawberries and apples.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Visitors at the Singapore Zoo watching Inuka celebrate his birthday with a treat from the zookeepers.
Visitors at the Singapore Zoo watching Inuka celebrate his birthday with a treat from the zookeepers. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Post birthday "cake" rest for Inuka.
Post birthday "cake" rest for Inuka.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Zoo's lone polar bear Inuka turns 25 on Dec 26, and to kick off a 10-day celebration, a photo exhibition about the arctic habitat of polar bears was launched on Wednesday (Dec 16).

The Our Arctic Future exhibition highlights the threat climate change poses to the Arctic ecosystems and to polar bears. It was developed by the Natural History Museum of Denmark in collaboration with the governments of Greenland and Faroe Islands for the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Danish Ambassador to Singapore Berit Basse officiated at the launch in the zoo's Frozen Tundra exhibit, where Inuka lives.

At the launch, the Singapore-born Inuka, the first polar bear born in the tropics, was given a birthday "cake" made of ice blocks, whipped cream and fruits such as watermelon, kiwis, strawberries and apples. 

At 25, Inuka is considered to be a senior bear. Polar bears live between 15 and 18 years in the wild on average while those bred in captivity, like Inuka, live an average of 25 years. But with proper care, captive polar bears can live much longer. Inuka's mother Sheba, for example, died in 2013 at the old age of 35. 

 

Inuka's last health check in July found age-related conditions such as arthritis and dental issues which the zoo's veterinary team is closely monitoring. He currently weighs 581kg and measures 2.5m from nose to tail.

Mr Mike Barclay, chief executive of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: "As Inuka, Singapore's very own locally born-and-bred polar bear turns 25, he is officially in his golden years and we will adjust his care to ensure he continues to enjoy a great quality of life with us here in the Singapore Zoo." 

Media company Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has supported Inuka's upkeep since his birth on Dec 26, 1990. SPH Foundation, the charity arm of SPH, took over from 2007. 

Said Mr Alan Chan, chief executive of SPH and director of SPH Foundation: "We wish Inuka a happy birthday and hope he can bring joy to many for years to come. Through our close partnership with Wildlife Reserves Singapore, we will continue to promote community awareness and responsibility in wildlife protection and conservation, which is one of SPH Foundation's core objectives." 

Over the next 10 days, guests of the zoo can catch Inuka enjoying birthday treats at 1.20pm daily. The photo exhibition will be up until Jan 16.