Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Calais migrants interrupt polar bear's trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park

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Media captionMigrants board polar bear lorry

A group of migrants who jumped onto the back of a lorry in Calais bound for the UK found some unexpected company onboard - a polar bear.

Nissan, a 22-month-old male, was being moved to Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster when the four men climbed aboard the truck in slow traffic.

They were described as "shocked" to see the animal, but three of the four remained with the unusual cargo.

French police were alerted and the men were ordered off of the lorry.

Simon Marsh, animal collections manager at the park, said Nissan's transfer from Moscow to Doncaster had gone to plan apart from the issue in northern France.

"There was a slight hiccup at Calais," he said. "Nissan had some unexpected guests in the back of the lorry.

"Obviously he was in a crate, so it was all very safe and secure, but I think they were a bit surprised when they saw a polar bear."

Image copyright Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Image caption Nissan was "unfazed" by his visitors at Calais and in "great shape" since arriving in Doncaster, wildlife park officials said
Image copyright Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Image caption The bear had been in slow-moving traffic outside the French town when a group of people managed to open the back doors of his truck

Nissan arrived at the wildlife park in South Yorkshire after his unscheduled overnight visit and staff are preparing to introduce him to the park's two other polar bears, Victor, 16, and Pixel, 2.

Strict welfare regulations were in force throughout the 1,800 mile (3,000 km) journey from Moscow to Doncaster via Frankfurt in Germany, by road, sea and air.

The bears will be introduced over the next few weeks in the purpose-built 10-acre Project Polar reserve designed to replicate their Arctic habitat.

Nissan was born at Izhevsk Zoo, in Russia, on 12 December 2013 and has been moved to the UK as part of the European breeding programme.

Image copyright Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Image caption Nissan travelled via Frankfurt by air, then a further 1,000 miles (1,609 km) by road and ferry to Doncaster
Image copyright Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Image caption The polar bear's journey of more than 1,864 miles (3,000 km) took almost a year of planning with strict welfare regulations in force

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