Social media users remember Inuka through heartfelt tributes and artwork

Many took to social media to mourn the loss of Inuka, who was 27 years old and would have been well into his 70s in human years.
Many took to social media to mourn the loss of Inuka, who was 27 years old and would have been well into his 70s in human years.PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/K SHANMUGAM SC, INSTAGRAM/SHUCOLAT, INSTAGRAM/BERRYPASTELART

SINGAPORE - For many Singaporeans, Inuka was more than the world's first polar bear born in the tropics, but also a cuddly, fellow "countryman" that they shared their growing years with.

The much-loved icon of the Singapore Zoo was put down humanely on Wednesday (April 25), after a medical examination showed little improvement in his failing health.

Many people took to social media to mourn the loss of Inuka, who was 27 years old and would have been well into his 70s in human years.

Some penned heartfelt words and shared memories of their zoo visits, while others expressed their emotions through artwork. Many of them also used the hashtag #ripinuka.

Here are some of the tributes.

K. Shanmugam

In a Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam shared a black and white photo of Inuka, and described him as a favourite of many.

"So many memories down the years, such a favourite. He was well cared for and received lots of love. Will be missed," he wrote.


Local blogger Lee Kin Mun, better known as mrbrown, wished for Inuka to find peace in "Polar Bear Heaven".

Joakim Gomez

Mediacorp 98.7FM DJ Joakim Gomez shared a photo of Inuka in his enclosure which was taken a week before he was put down.

"Sad to hear the news but at least his pain is over."

Esther Lim Kah Hwee

Facebook user Esther Lim Kah Hwee created a watercolour painting of Inuka with wings using rainbow shades.

"Goodbye Inuka! You are finally free!" she wrote.


Twitter user Asyqinluvshim, who counts polar bears among her favourite animals in the world, said that she was glad for the chance to see Inuka in her lifetime.

She posted a photo of her visit to the zoo as a young girl, as well as another one during her recent visit, after news broke that Inuka was ailing.

"Thank you for giving me so much comfort and happiness... I will never forget you," her note read.


Twitter user KaizokuKarma paid tribute to the polar bear with a digital artwork of a swimming Inuka.

He added: "Thank you for being my favourite animal at the zoo, for being the gentlest giant."

Elmi Zulkarnain Osman

Facebook user Elmi Zulkarnain Osman shared a video of Inuka diving into the water, blowing bubbles as it came back up to the surface.

In his tribute, he said that Inuka spent a wonderful life in the zoo, even if the bear did not know the polar ice caps or the cold of the Arctic.

"May you be free of all pain and suffering and flash photography in heaven. Everyone misses you," he said.


Twitter user Ashyun_ said that she first met Inuka 16 years ago when she was Primary 5. She posted a photo of the booklet she had kept all these years which contained a description of Inuka's life.


Shucolat Instagram user shucolat shared a watercolour illustration of Inuka smiling as he eyes a watermelon slice and a fish in his icy enclosure.


Also as a nod to some of Inuka's favourite food, Instagram user berrypastelart created a pen drawing of the bear posing with a "cake" containing fish and watermelon.

"Although we aren't zookeepers who had close contact or regular interactions with Inuka, we are still sad," she wrote in the post.

Lee Hsien Loong

In his tribute to Inuka on Thursday, PM Lee said the polar bear was "as Singaporean as anyone of us". 

He added that he remembers seeing Inuka as a cub when he opened the polar bear enclosure at the Singapore Zoo in 1993.  "You will be missed, Inuka!" he wrote.