Last chance for public to visit polar bear Inuka on Monday, before crucial health check-up

Inuka in its enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 19, 2018.
Inuka in its enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 19, 2018. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Inuka in its enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 19, 2018.
Inuka in its enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 19, 2018. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Inuka in its enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 20, 2018.
Inuka in its enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on April 20, 2018. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - Monday (April 23) could be the last chance for the public to visit Inuka, the Singapore Zoo's polar bear who was found to be in declining health after an initial medical examination earlier this month.

The zoo's 27-year-old resident may be put down on Wednesday, if a second full medical check shows that it is suffering.

In preparation for the check-up, Inuka will not be able to meet visitors from Tuesday, said the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which runs the zoo, in a Facebook post on Friday (April 20).

Scores of visitors had flocked to the zoo over the last two weekends, after news broke on April 12 of Inuka's ailing condition.

Since the beginning of the year, Inuka has been lethargic and inactive, spending most of its days prone and unmoving.

It has been on a constant cocktail of painkillers to treat a slew of ailments, including arthritis, dental issues and occasional ear infections.

In a video on WRS' Facebook page, assistant director of veterinary services Abraham Mathew gave a short update on Inuka's progress and explained what the team will be looking out for on Wednesday.


Cards bearing get-well wishes for Inuka from visitors of the zoo. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS


Deputy head keeper Mohan Ponichamy, 41, with Inuka in its den at the Singapore Zoo on Apr 19, 2018. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

"The pain management (medication) appears to be helping him. Inuka is actually a little bit more active... and the keepers have noted much higher of level of activity compared to what he was," he said.

"Without the pain management, Inuka is actually very reluctant to move."

 
 

Wednesday's check-up will primarily be to assess Inuka's condition, "to see if what we are doing is helping him in a positive way", he said.

"If it is, we can prolong this treatment regime to help him along the way, to make him feel as comfortable as possible, with his welfare the utmost of our priority," he added.

But if Inuka's condition is deteriorating in spite of the medication, then the team will have to take the next step of letting him go peacefully, he said.

This could mean goodbye to Singapore's last polar bear, and the only one to be born in the tropics.

Already, Inuka has surpassed the average life expectancy of polar bears, who typically live 15 to 18 years in the wild and 25 years under human care.