NEW DELHI: Tributes poured in for Inuka, the world's first polar bear, born in the tropics, who died on Wednesday in Singapore due to age and health-related issues.
A user posted a picture of a young Inuka with his mother at the Singapore Zoo.
"You brought me so much joy during my childhood. You were well loved and will be fondly missed ???? #RIPInuka," the user tweeted.
Another user posted pictures of Inuka doing several activities before his death.
"This was Inuka on Monday - it was the last time he was seen by the public. He was swimming around, eating treats and basking in his ice cave. Rest In Peace, dear Inuka #RIPInuka," the second user tweeted.
A third Twitterer posted different pictures of the polar bear in happier times.
"Still vividly remember reporting on Inuka's brand new home at the Singapore Zoo back in 2013. Was excited to be up close with this tropical polar bear and snapped these pics then. Sad to hear he had to be put down today. #RIPInuka," the third user wrote on the micro-blogging site.
A fourth user posted a video, showing Inuka swimming in his Arctic-style pool and mesmerising the zoo visitors.
Dear Inuka, you had a wonderful life here in Singapore, even if you never knew the polar ice caps and the cold of the Arctic. May you be free of all pain and suffering and flash photography in heaven. Everyone misses you. #RIPInuka," the fourth user tweeted.
The Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) on Wednesday announced Inuka's death.
The polar bear has been put down on "humane grounds", after a second health examination in three weeks by the Singapore zoo authorities found that its health was rapidly deteriorating despite intensive treatments.
Inuka was the first ever polar bear to be born in the tropics on December 26, 1990.
Inuka's father Nanook and mother Sheba, who were originally from Canada and Germany were the first ever polar bears to be brought into a tropical country in 1978. When the mother gave birth to Inuka, it weighed just 350 g at birth, which grew to weigh over 500 kg, ChannelNewsAsia reported.
Male polar bears generally have a life expectancy of between 15 and 18 years. In human years, he was in his 70s.
Inuka's name, which means "silent stalker" in Inuit language, was chosen in a national naming contest.
Described as "cheerful and cheeky fellow" by the WRS, Inuka would "stalk" and surprise guests by popping up right in front of their faces when they came close to the glass front of his enclosure.
Polar bears, which generally have white furs, even though the bear's coats have no white pigment, but are hollow, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
However, in Inuka's case, the microscopic algae present in his pool would sometimes enter its hollow hair shafts, turning the polar bear's fur from white to green.
The polar bear had a liking for meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, with his favourite being salmon. Inuka loved tossing and flipping "fruitsicles" - large blocks of ice with frozen fruit inside, according to WRS.
Last year, Inuka's birthday cake consisted of agar-agar, an Asian jelly desert, while his previous cakes featured salmon, peanut butter and beef.
The death of Inuka makes him the world's first and last polar bear to be born in the tropics.
In 2006, the Singapore Zoo announced that it would no longer bring polar bears into the country.