A minute of applause to celebrate Inuka

26 APR 2018
The Frozen Tundra grandstand where guests usually cheered and clapped was sombre this morning, as over 400 staff of the Singapore Zoo, well-wishers and fans gathered for a memorial held in the name of Inuka, the first polar bear born in the tropics.

Singapore Zoo bade farewell to her beloved senior polar bear Inuka on 25 April 2018. The health of the Zoo’s golden resident declined markedly in the past three months, and the zoo vets and his care team agreed to not revive him from anesthesia on humane grounds following a second health examination in three weeks.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

Mr Mohan Ponichamy, one of Inuka’s primary carers, gave a heartfelt eulogy.  He shared, “We have been conducting keeper interactions for years. It is a routine, which got broken this morning. For the first time, walking through the Frozen Tundra, Inuka was not in his climate-controlled area. We didn’t walk into the den this morning to see a cheery Inuka greeting us. The space was empty.”

On a lighter note, he also recounted a mischievous side of the polar bear little known to the public— Inuka had a penchant for blocking the flow of a waterfall in his exhibit, much to the comical exasperation of his keepers and the water treatment engineers. To counter his mischief, keepers drilled holes in his favourite mischief-making tool – a red disc that also made an appearance during the memorial.

In his tribute, Mr Mike Barclay, Group CEO of Mandai Park Holdings, said, “Three weeks ago, the team made the tough, and courageous, decision to inform the public of Inuka’s declining health, to signal that we were most probably entering the last chapter of his life. We did this because we wanted to be open and transparent with everyone. This has triggered an outpouring of emotions. Some have been strongly supportive of our approach, others have reacted with anger— but the consistent thread has been one of love for Inuka and of grief over the likely passing of one of Singapore’s living icons.  Everyone involved in the debate cared deeply about this very special polar bear.”

The memorial ended with a one-minute applause, for a bear that loved the limelight.

Twenty-seven-year old Inuka passed away on 25 April 2018. Members of the public who wish to offer their tributes to Inuka can pen their well wishes on a memorial wall at Singapore Zoo’s Frozen Tundra.

Mohan Ponichamy, Deputy Head Keeper and one of Inuka’s primary carers gave a moving tribute to the beloved polar bear during the private memorial ceremony at
Singapore Zoo’s Frozen Tundra grandstand this morning. Inuka underwent a health
check on 25 April, and his care team made the difficult decision not to revive
him on humane grounds.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

During his eulogy, Mohan Ponichamy, Deputy Head Keeper and one of Inuka’s caregivers, touched on Inuka’s intelligence and ‘kaypoh-ness’. He recounted how Inuka would always place the red disc (pictured in front of him) over the water inlet to stop the waterfall flow, and then look up as it happened. To counter this,
another colleague, Tokiman Rachey, drilled holes so the waterfall would not
completely stop when the disc covered the inlet.

Inuka was a Singa-polar bear, Mohan continued, and being practical like his fellow Singaporeans meant that he preferred playing with simple things like traffic cones and dustbins over carnivore enrichment toys the Zoo provided.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

Mr Mike Barclay, Group CEO of Mandai Park Holdings delivered the second eulogy during Inuka’s memorial this morning. He articulated how glad he was to see that the love expressed for Inuka had also been directed towards the keepers and vets who had been working silently behind the scenes.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

A minute of applause was the fitting finale for Inuka’s memorial – for Singapore’s tropical bear that lived, and reveled, in the limelight since he was born. Inuka’s care team, and approximately 400 other staff, fans and well-wishes were present at the private memorial ceremony at Singapore Zoo’s Frozen Tundra this morning.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

Junior Keeper Stefan Ng gently placing a long-stemmed white rose for Inuka, the polar bear that inspired him to be a zookeeper.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

Despite being on maternity leave, WRS employee Wendy Tan Yangzhi made the journey down to Singapore Zoo with her 2-month-old son Caleb to be a part of Inuka’s memorial.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

A lovely arrangement of orchids stood silently in Inuka’s Frozen Tundra—marking the end of an era for Singapore Zoo—with the passing of its last polar bear.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE