Singapore zoo is immersed in a festive atmosphere as officials and zoo keepers start the five-day celebration for the birthday of locally born polar bear Inuka from 22 December. Inuka was born on 26 December 1990 and will turn 26 this year, which is equivalent to seventies in comparison to humans.
The septuagenarian polar bear is currently going through regular checkups after he was diagnosed with arthritis and dental issues. The zoo's veterinary team is also treating his dry eyes and an ear infection, said Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).
According to Channel News Asia, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of WRS, Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, said that the zoo's main goal is to provide a "very good quality of life" to Inuka.
Special birthday for Inuka
Inuka has been treated with a massive birthday cake made of ice with salmon and minced beef and topped with a small helping of peanut butter, reported the news agency. Zoo keepers also filled his climate controlled den with more than two tonnes of crushed ice. Enrichment toys were also scattered around for him to play and remain mentally and physically occupied.
The polar bear will be the main attraction of the zoo from 22 December to 26 December. Visitors can enjoy watching Inuka enjoying his "birthday enrichment session".
Has Inuka become really old?
Some people argue that Inuka, who is the main crowd puller of the Singapore Zoo, has become old and probably is in pain and should be put to sleep. However, Dr Cheng said that the zoo is not concerned about prolonging the bear's life. He said that as long as he is eating properly and being able to move, the zoo will continue looking after him. "Overall we've assessed that we still have a very happy bear that enjoys life...However if it comes to a point that we don't think we can manage his pain then we'll probably have to consider the humane thing to do," said the doctor, according to the news website.
Dr Cheng also said that the bear is under constant observation and the vet checks him on weekly basis. He also hopes that the zoo is able to give Inuka a happy and content life as long as possible."It could be months, perhaps extend to the end of next year – we still don't know. We really just have to observe him, how he responds to our care," he said.
The doctor also said that after Inuks, the zoo will not acquire any polar bear, rather hey will be focusing more on animals from the tropics or sub-tropics which are easy to maintain.
Not everyone is lucky
Inuka celebrates his birthday amidst pleas for the release of another polar bear called Pizza from an aquarium in a Chinese mall. Recently, the story of Pizza, dubbed as world's loneliest polar bear, has gone viral as several animal lovers took to social media to criticise the Chinese government. Pizza is kept in a glass enclosure in Grandview Mall in China for people to click selfies with. A UK zoo has also offered to adopt pizza and make a suitable enclosure for him. However, the Animal Asia's Welfare said there is not much reciprocation from the management of the mall.