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First Polar Bear born in the Tropics dies in Singapore zoo

First Polar Bear born in the Tropics dies in Singapore zoo

In rather sad and tragic news, Singapore on Wednesday mourned the death of the first polar bear born and bred in the tropical island city, put down by wildlife authorities after a five-year battle with health difficulties because of old age. Inuka, a 27-year-old animal who grappled with challenges ranging from arthritis to dental problems and ear infections, carried until his last days a green tinge in his fur blamed on algae growth, reported Reuters.

“As much as we would like to keep Inuka with us for as long as possible, our ultimate responsibility is his welfare,” said Cheng Wen-Haur, an official of zoo operator Singapore Wildlife Reserves. “The greater kindness would be to relieve him from prolonged suffering,” Cheng said in a statement.

“Please do let him pass on naturally,” said Vanessa S. Wee, one of more than 100 social media users who commented on the zoo operator’s Facebook page. “He is the only tropical polar bear, a true-blue Singaporean, a one-of-a-kind icon,” added another, Anita Ryanto.


The Polar bear i.e. Inuka, or “foreboding strength” in Inuit, was born on Boxing Day in 1990 to parents Nanook and Sheba, who had arrived from Canada and Germany, respectively, in 1978. His father, Nanook, died in 1995 at 18 while Sheba died at the age of 35 in 2012. In the wildlife, the bears have an average life expectancy of 15 to 18 years.

But in 2004, when the fur on Inuka and his mother started turning green, questioning began over the ethics of keeping polar bears in the tropics. The Singapore Zoo said the green tinge was algae growth. In 2004, the BBC said the bears were bleached with hydrogen peroxide. Animal rights groups have urged zoos not to keep polar bears and live them in their natural habitat.




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