Inuka, likely to be S’pore’s last po­lar bear, in de­clin­ing health

The New Paper - - NEWS - KIM­BER­LEY CHIA

For the past five years, polytech­nic lec­turer Anita Ryanto has gone to the Sin­ga­pore Zoo al­most ev­ery month to paint wa­ter­colour il­lus­tra­tions of the zoo’s iconic po­lar bear, Inuka.

Her visit yes­ter­day, how­ever, felt a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.

“I read in the news in my of­fice that he was very sick this morn­ing and was re­ally sad, so I de­cided that I must come and sketch him to­day,” said the 47-year-old lec­turer with Ngee Ann Polytech­nic’s School of In­fo­Comm Tech­nol­ogy.

The Sin­ga­pore Zoo said yes­ter­day the 27-year old po­lar bear, the first to be born in the trop­ics, is in a state of de­clin­ing health.

A health ex­am­i­na­tion by a vet­eri­nary care team on April 3 found Inuka had a stiffer gait, par­tic­u­larly no­tice­able in his hind limbs, on top of ex­ist­ing health prob­lems of arthri­tis, den­tal is­sues and oc­ca­sional ear in­fec­tions.

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

As a re­sult, vet­eri­nar­i­ans have in­cluded in­ten­sive treat­ment for his feet in his daily care regime. Inuka has also been started on painkillers and an­tibi­otics to fur­ther al­le­vi­ate his symp­toms.

In the mean­time, daily sched­uled in­ter­ac­tion ses­sions with Inuka have been sus­pended to al­low him to “en­joy his time as he pleases”.

Inuka, who is adopted by SPH Foun­da­tion, is sched­uled to un­dergo a sec­ond health ex­am­i­na­tion in late April.

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

Inuka may be Sin­ga­pore’s last po­lar bear, in light of the zoo’s an­nounce­ment in 2006 that it would no longer bring po­lar bears to an equa­to­rial cli­mate.


Inuka in his en­clo­sure yes­ter­day.

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