Hundreds flock to see ailing Inuka at Singapore Zoo polar bear enclosure

Visitors flocked to Inuka's enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 14, 2018, the first weekend after the zoo revealed that the 27-year-old polar bear could be put down if its health continues to decline.
Visitors flocked to Inuka's enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 14, 2018, the first weekend after the zoo revealed that the 27-year-old polar bear could be put down if its health continues to decline.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO
Visitors flocked to Inuka's enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 14, 2018, the first weekend after the zoo revealed that the 27-year-old polar bear could be put down if its health continues to decline.
Visitors flocked to Inuka's enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 14, 2018, the first weekend after the zoo revealed that the 27-year-old polar bear could be put down if its health continues to decline.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
A health examination by a veterinary care team on April 3 found that Inuka had a stiffer gait which was more pronounced in its hind limbs.
A health examination by a veterinary care team on April 3 found that Inuka had a stiffer gait which was more pronounced in its hind limbs.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Inuka may well be Singapore's last polar bear, in light of the zoo's 2006 announcement that it would no longer bring anymore polar bears to an equatorial climate after discussions with its Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee.
Inuka may well be Singapore's last polar bear, in light of the zoo's 2006 announcement that it would no longer bring anymore polar bears to an equatorial climate after discussions with its Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Financial consultant Lee Wing Wai made the half-hour drive from Orchard Road to Mandai for what could be his last chance to see the ailing polar bear Inuka.

"I worry that I can't see him anymore. The last time I was here, I saw him still swimming around. Now he's just lying there," said Mr Lee, 51.

He was one of hundreds who flocked to Inuka's enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on Saturday (April 14) - the first weekend after the zoo revealed on Thursday that the 27-year-old polar bear could be put down if its health continues to decline.

As rain pelted down outside, visitors watched as Inuka rested at the far end of its cave, its once-limber movements now sluggish.

A health examination by a veterinary care team on April 3 found that Inuka had a stiffer gait which was more pronounced in its hind limbs, on top of other health problems like arthritis, dental issues and the occasional ear infection.

The abnormal shuffling gait has caused abrasions on its paw pads, while age-related muscle atrophy is evident, said the zoo.

As a result, veterinarians have included intensive treatment for its feet in its daily care regime.

Inuka has also been started on painkillers and antibiotics to further alleviate its symptoms.

 
 

Daily interaction sessions with visitors have stopped as it "prefers to rest more now".

"If results indicate that Inuka's welfare is not improving with these intensive treatments, its care team may have to make the very difficult decision to not allow it to recover from anaesthesia on humane and welfare grounds," the zoo added.

Inuka may well be Singapore's last polar bear, in light of the zoo's 2006 announcement that it would no longer bring anymore polar bears to an equatorial climate after discussions with its Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee.


As rain pelted down outside, visitors watched as Inuka rested at the far end of its cave, its once-limber movements now sluggish, on April 14, 2018. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Inuka's father, Nanook, died in 1995 and its mother, Sheba, in 2012. Inuka will turn 28 on Dec 26.

University student Rachel Low, 21, said it was "strange" to think of a zoo without Inuka.

"I used to go to the zoo every school holiday when I was a kid and I always looked forward to seeing Inuka there," she said.


Inuka may well be Singapore's last polar bear. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Said Mr Lee, who is a member of Friends Of Singapore Zoo: "I don't know when they will put him to sleep. Since it's the weekend, I just popped by.

"Sometimes I come down to the zoo after work to de-stress and take photos… today I came down purposely to see Inuka."