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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 4 May 2007

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Inuka the polar bear to remain in Singapore



During a committee meeting on January 27, 2007, Wildlife Reserves Singapore¡¯s Animal Welfare & Ethics Committee (AWEC) has made a recommendation that Inuka the polar bear should remain in Singapore and not be relocated to a temperate country following his mother¡¯s demise.
AWEC made the decision after considering several factors:
The life span of both Inuka (17 years old) and his mother Sheba (30 years old) indicate that both polar bears are faring well in this environment. Moving Inuka to a temperate facility after losing his mother will add further stress, since he will be removed from an environment that he is already familiar with.
The transport of a full grown polar bear to an institution in a temperate country will be a stressful situation and carries its own share of risks; most extreme being that Inuka may die during transportation or during the introduction process in the new facility.
Depending on when Sheba passes on, Inuka may have only limited breeding potential because of his age, and if sent to a temperate institution, will probably not contribute to the captive breeding effort.
While the initial decision was to move Inuka to a temperate country upon the demise of his mother Sheba, the AWEC committee believes retaining Inuka in Singapore Zoo was in his best interest, considering that Sheba is still very healthy and Inuka has only three years left to be sexually reproductive.
AWEC members weighed heavily the pros and cons.
On one hand, logic prevails that Artic animals should reside in temperate climates as they thrive better.
On the other hand, mother polar bear Sheba has thrived beyond the average lifespan and Inuka who was born here in the tropics is now 17 years old. Initially, it seems more humane to relocate Inuka after his mother¡¯s passing away.
However, as Singapore Zoo and AWEC continue to study and review the matter, it became clear that it may be more distressing for Inuka to lose not only his mother but also the home and keepers he has had since he was born in Singapore.
AWEC and Singapore Zoo, nevertheless, will continue to keep an open view. With new discoveries every so often in veterinary science, captive animal breeding and management around the world, there will be a need to again assess the situation at that point in time when Sheba passes on.
AWEC was formed in May 2001 to provide counsel and advice on matters relating to the welfare of animals. Of the 14 members, 9 are independent professionals from various fields.
AWEC members comprise:
Professor Leo Tan

Director, National Institute of Education

Chairman, NParks

Immediate Past Chairman
Professor Tommy Koh

Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Biswajit Guha

Assistant Director (Zoology), Singapore Zoo

Committee Members
Dr Chua Sin Bin

Chief Executive Officer, Agri-food and Veterinary Authority

Dato Mikaail Kavanagh

Former-Executive Director, WWF Malaysia

Bernard Harrison

Principal Partner, Bernard Harrison & Friends

Ms Carla Barker

Chairman SPCA

Ms Fanny Lai

Executive Director, Singapore Zoo & Night Safari

Dr Geh Min

President, Nature Society Singapore

Dr Jean-Paul Ly

Consultant, Animal Recovery Centre, Singapore

Dr Peter K L Ng

Director, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore

Dr Ho Yew Kee

Executive Director, Secretariat, Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Dr Wong Hon Mun

Executive Director, Jurong BirdPark

Source: News Release 3 May 2007

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