For many Singaporeans, Inuka holds a special place in our hearts. Many of us would remember the excitement of seeing a live polar bear in front of our very eyes for the first time!
Born in the Singapore Zoo to two wild-caught polar bears, Nanook and Sheba, the name “Inuka” means “silent stalker” in Inuit, a nod to his Arctic heritage. He lived in the Singapore Zoo from his birth in December 1990 until his death in April 2018, and, as the first polar bear in the world born in the tropics, was also a prime opportunity to educate visitors in the region about the effects of climate change on polar bears.
Of course, there were concerns by the public and animal welfare groups about raising a polar bear in a tropical climate. Indeed, these concerns were not unfounded, even though the Zoo and his caretakers had sought to give Inuka the best life possible in Singapore’s hot and humid weather. Nevertheless, despite environmental challenges, Inuka managed to live to a ripe old age of 27, which is equivalent to more than 70 human years!
Unfortunately, Inuka’s health began to decline in early 2018, and he was euthanised a few months later. His death was mourned by many Singaporeans, and he is fondly remembered as a symbol of resilience and adaptability in harsh and difficult environments – in that sense, his life is an inspiration to us all.
Following discussions with the Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee, it had also been decided that Inuka would be our nation’s last polar bear, so those of us who have seen Inuka in the flesh had lived through a special time indeed.
#ThrowbackThursday #ThrowbackThursdaySG #SingaporeZoo #Inuka #conservation #climatechange