Inuka suffering from old-age-related illnesses, could be put down by April 2018

You'll soon be truly free.

Belmont Lay| April 12, 05:23 PM

The Singapore Zoo’s iconic tropical polar bear Inuka may be in his last weeks of life.

He is now 27 years old. Translated to human years, he's in his 70s.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) said on Thursday, April 12, that his health is on the decline.

Following a health examination last Tuesday, Inuka’s veterinary care team has been monitoring the polar bear.

If results indicate Inuka's condition does not improve with intensive treatments, he will be put to sleep to not allow it to recover from anesthesia on humane and welfare grounds.

In the past three months, the polar bear’s activity levels have “dipped noticeably”.

Inuka currently has arthritis, dental issues and occasional ear infections, which are being managed.

He now exhibits a stiffer gait in his hind limbs, which results in abrasions on his paw pads. He also has age-related general muscle atrophy.

Daily polar bear interaction sessions have been suspended, but fans can continue to visit Inuka at Singapore Zoo’s Frozen Tundra.

Has had a good long run

Born on Dec. 26, 1990 in Singapore Zoo, Inuka is the first and only polar bear born in the tropics.

At 27 years old, he has surpassed the 25-year average lifespan of polar bears under human care.

Male polar bears in the wild have a life expectancy of between 15-18 years.


Inuka is among the 2 per cent of the total zoo population to be placed under a special senior animal care programme.

Inuka means “silent stalker” in the Inuit language. He is one of four polar bears to have resided at the Singapore Zoo to date, including his parents Nanook and Sheba, as well as Anana, a female polar bear caught in the wild.

Inuka's father Nanook and mother Sheba arrived at the zoo in 1978 from Winnipeg Zoo in Canada and Cologne Zoo in Germany, respectively.

Nanook passed away in 1995 at the age of 18, while Sheba died five years ago when she was 35.

Anana arrived from Canada in 1979 and died in 1999.

Concern for Inuka's well-being years ago as he was seen covered in algae:

Top photo via WRS Facebook page