As a child, you probably went to the zoo to meet Inuka, Singapore’s very own polar bear. 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.

View this post on Instagram

Inuka是新加坡动物园仅存的北极熊。27岁的他,在新加坡土生土长,也算得上是一届动物明星。个性活泼的Inuka,近日活力已不再。 新加坡动物园今早发出文告表示,Inuka过去三个月来活动量显著降低,对日常活动不感兴趣。由于健康每况愈下,4月底再次进行健康检查后若没改善,护理团队可能得忍痛将Inuka人道毁灭。 这张照片摄于2017年初,Inuka那时才刚过26岁生日不久。 📷:何家俊 . . . #prayforInuka #sgphotography #photojournalism #photojournalist #sgphoto #sgig #photooftheday #sgphotographer #摄影 #新加坡摄影师 #zaobaosg #animalphotography #animal #polarbear #北极熊 #iganimals #inuka #singaporezoo

A post shared by 早报 (@zaobaosg) on

“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.

If that happens, the polar bear, who has been one of the main attractions of the zoo since he was born, will surely be missed.

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.

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.

Image: Ariffin Jamar / TNP Photo
Text: Kimberley Chia / The New Paper / April 2018
For similar stories, visit

For more local stories, read Here’s How To Register Your Home Business In Singapore and 7 Women-Only Gyms In Singapore To Check Out.