Inuka was born in the Singapore Zoo in 1990, the result of an extensive breeding program run by the zoo and was the first and only polar bear to be born in the tropics.

Inuka’s parent are Nanook and Sheba. They arrived at the Singapore Zoo in 1978, from Winnipeg Zoo in Canada and Cologne Zoo in Germany respectively. Nanook was 11 months old and was captured in the wild, while Sheba was 14 months old and born in captivity. To ease them in, they arrived in the early hours of the morning when the temperature was coolest.

On 26 December 1990, Sheba gave birth to a 350-gram male cub. The cub was named Inuka, chosen from amongst 390 names suggested in a nationwide naming contest. More than 10,000 entries were received, including names like Arctos and Shardik.

Inuka’s father, Nanook, died on 29 December 1995 at the age of 18. He had been suffering from chronic heart disease and lung disease. The Singapore-born polar bear was raised by his mother Sheba. Sheba died on 15 November 2012 at the age of 35. She had been under treatment since September 2012 for loss of strength in her hind limbs, but her condition worsened and was put down after a close evaluation showed that her prognosis was poor.

Inuka lived till 27 years old, equivalent to the age of seventies in human terms. The average life expectancy of polar bears is between 15 and 18 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity.

The world’s only tropical polar bear died on 25 April 2018. With the death of the bears, the Singapore Zoo has announced it will not bring in any polar bears in the future.

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