Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Yorkshire Wildlife Park's last rescued brown bear dies

Ussuri brown bear Hanako Image copyright Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Image caption Ussuri brown bear Hanako had to be put to sleep at the park

The last of four endangered bears rehomed in Yorkshire after being rescued from Japan has died.

Ussuri brown bears Riku, Kai, Hanako and Amu were flown over 5,400 miles in August 2018 after being found in cramped conditions at a museum.

Hanako, the oldest bear at 27, was put to sleep on Saturday, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park said.

All four bears had significant health problems when they arrived in the UK from Tokyo.

Amu was put to sleep in August 2018, and Kai and Riku in September and October this year.

Kai and Riku who were aged 17 when they arrived and Hanako and Amu were 27.

In August 2018 shortly after they arrived vets examining Amu found chronic degenerative diseases which were "worse than first thought" and the bear was put to sleep.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park said on Monday it was deeply saddened by Hanako's death.

The park, near Doncaster, said: "Hanako, the last and oldest of the Ussuri brown bears rescued from Japan, has died.

"Hanako arrived at the park with a variety of health problems due to the many years she spent in poor conditions in a museum in Japan.

Image copyright Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Image caption The animals were rehomed after animal welfare workers became concerned about their living conditions in Japan

"When they [bears] arrived, they had problems with their teeth, malnourishment, joint and limb problems and they were underweight.

"Hanako also had specialist ophthalmic care for eye problems.

"Sadly, after the recurrence of stomach problems and several fits, the park vets made the decision to put her to sleep.

"A post mortem will be carried out."

Image caption The bears were kept in cramped and outdated conditions in Japan
Image caption The bears were brought to a new home at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park

The bears were flown to London from Tokyo and then transferred to the park in an operation it described as "like clockwork".

They were being kept at the Ainu Cultural Museum on the island of Hokkaido when they came to the attention of animal charity Wild Welfare.

The Ussuri brown bear, also known as the black grizzly, can weigh up to 86 stone (550kg) and live up to 35 years.

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