Underwater World Singapore's famous dugong Gracie died two years ago

A trainer holding a birthday cake topped with sea grass for Gracie the dugong at the Underwater World Singapore in 2009.
A trainer holding a birthday cake topped with sea grass for Gracie the dugong at the Underwater World Singapore in 2009.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Gracie the dugong is dead.

It died two years ago but it was only yesterday that The New Paper got the confirmation from the Underwater World Singapore (UWS).

In an e-mail reply to TNP, a UWS spokesman said: "The dugong named Gracie at UWS died from complications arising from an acute digestive disorder in January 2014."

There was no additional information.

Gracie was only a baby when it first made headlines in 1998.

It was rescued off Pulau Ubin, where its mother had drowned from being entangled in a fishing net.


A post-mortem revealed that the adult female dugong was lactating and the authorities decided that the suckling calf should be cared for by UWS - the orphaned calf would not have survived in the wild without it mother to care for it.

A dugong is a large plant-eating mammal, often called the "sea cow" for its habit of grazing on seagrass meadows.

Related to the manatee, the dugong has a two-lobed tail, cleft upper lip and arms resembling flippers.

A young dugong remains close to its mother for about 18 months.

Gracie became a local celebrity in 2001. It had its own cove in the display tunnel of UWS and visitors could interact with it at $70 per dive.

It hobnobbed with stars like actor Pierre Png and made its film debut on Animal Planet with former model Nadya Hutagalung.

Gracie celebrated its 12th year at the aquarium in 2009 with a cake made of seagrass.

But in 2014, it disappeared from the public eye. No one seemed to know where it was.

It was last year that British computing science professor Paul Harrald tweeted "What has happened to Gracie the dugong? #wheresgracie?"

Yesterday, we got the answer: Gracie had died.It was only 19.

According to Animal Diversity Web, an online database of animal natural history, distribution, classification and conservation biology at the University of Michigan, dugongs have an average life span of 70 years in the wild.

They are difficult to keep in captivity because of their specialised diet - a specific type of seagrass - which is difficult to grow.