First polar bear born in tropics dies in Singapore

April 25 (UPI) — Inuka, the first polar bear to be born and raised in a tropical climate, died in Singapore on Wednesday at the age of 27.

“With a heavy heart, we bade farewell to our beloved senior polar bear Inuka this morning,” Wildlife Reserves Singapore said in a statement. “Despite the best efforts of his care team, Inuka’s condition worsened and the difficult but necessary decision not to revive him from anesthesia was made on humane grounds.”

Inuka had dealt with various health problems including arthritis, dental problems, ear infections and carried until his last days a green tinge in his fur blamed on algae growth.

“As much as we would like to keep Inuka with us for as long as possible, our ultimate responsibility is his welfare,” Cheng Wen-Haur, an official of zoo operator Singapore Wildlife Reserves, said.

“The greater kindness would be to relieve him from prolonged suffering,” Cheng said.

Inuka, meaning “foreboding strength” in Inuit, was born in 1990 on Boxing Day to parents Nanook from Canada and Sheba from Germany.

Inuka’s name was chosen from among 390 in a nationwide contest. The polar bear was 3 years old when he was chosen as one of Singapore’s icons by The Straits Times newspaper.

Nanook, Inuka’s father, died in 1995 at 18 while Sheba died at the age of 35 in 2012. In the wild, the polar bears have an average life expectancy of 15 to 18 years.