Skeletal remains of Inuka to be preserved

Remains of only polar bear born in S'pore to be used for educational purposes, says WRS

Inuka's family of caregivers past and present gathered around him before he was put to sleep on April 25.
Inuka's family of caregivers past and present gathered around him before he was put to sleep on April 25.PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

The skeletal remains of Singapore's last polar bear Inuka, who was put down on April 25 due to his ailing health, will be preserved.

In response to queries, the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) said yesterday that the remains of the 27-year-old animal will be used for educational purposes.

Inuka, who would have been well into his 70s in human years, had been suffering from age-related ailments such as arthritis, dental issues and occasional ear infections for the past five years.

A medical examination on April 3 had revealed a significant decline in his health.

The Singapore Zoo said it made the decision to put Inuka to sleep on humane and welfare grounds, after a second medical check on April 25 showed that there was little improvement in his health.

Yesterday, WRS said it had completed a full autopsy on the polar bear and that the findings affirm the prognosis from veterinarians prior to Inuka's death.

"Inuka bore irreversible age-related ailments, including arthritis and ailing limbs, which resulted in a stiffer gait," WRS said.

"This, in turn, caused ulcerations on his pads that led to deeper infection between his toes."


Inuka was the first and only polar bear to be born in Singapore. The zoo said in 2006 that it would not bring any more polar bears to the country.

When news of his declining health broke, hundreds turned up at the zoo to leave cards and letters at his enclosure.

A private tribute ceremony was held on April 26 at the zoo's Frozen Tundra exhibit, where more than 400 zoo staff and guests paid their last respects.

Inuka's parents Nanook and Sheba were brought to Singapore in 1978. Inuka's father Nanook died in 1995 at the age of 18, while mother Sheba died in 2012 at the age of 35. She was the second-oldest polar bear in the world then.

Sheba was put to sleep in 2012 after her health worsened and she could not eat. She had suffered from loss of strength in her hind limbs.

Her body was preserved by a taxidermist and a year later, the zoo began displaying it as an exhibit for educational talks for students.

Students looking at Sheba the polar bear, whose body was preserved after she died of old age and is now used as an exhibit for educational talks. PHOTO: ST FILE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2018, with the headline 'Skeletal remains of Inuka to be preserved'. Print Edition | Subscribe