Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) announced today that the Singapore Zoo’s polar bear Inuka was put down this morning, at 9.30am, due to his failing health.
The organisation reported that a team of vets and keepers made the “difficult,” unanimous decision of not reviving Inuka, who had been anaesthetised at 7am today for a crucial health examination, since the check-up showed that the ailing bear’s health had not improved despite intensive treatment. This was his second medical examination in three weeks.
Assistant director of veterinary services, Dr Abraham Mathew, revealed: “The findings indicated that his welfare been seriously compromised and would only deteriorate further.”
The 27-year-old polar bear had been suffering from a variety of health issues and keepers had noticed that activity levels had dipped significantly recently. Inuka was suffering from arthritis, age-related muscle atrophy, dental issues and occasional ear infections. A stiffer gait also caused the bear to suffer sores on his paw pads that grew into open wounds.
Deputy head keeper Mohan Ponichamy revealed that Inuka’s health especially deteriorated over the past 18 months: “In December 2016, we noticed that he was unresponsive and slept the whole day…Over the years, his lameness in his right paw was getting from bad to worse.”
Dr Abraham added: “We wanted to give it a try and placed him on palliative care… We could not help him with his pressure sores on his fore pads…And to let him (to continue to) move around in them is unfair.”
WRS confirmed that there are plans to renovate Inuka’s exhibit into an enclosure for sea lions in a few months. Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, further reported that it has not yet been decided whether part of Inuka’s remains will be preserved for educational purposes.
He added, “It is a very emotional and sad day… But the right thing to do.”