Highlands & Islands

Scottish park's polar bear not thought to be pregnant

Polar bear cub Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Polar bear cubs have not been born in the UK for more than 20 years

A female polar bear at a Scottish animal park is not believed to be pregnant, says the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. (RZSS).

Victoria mated with a male bear at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore, last year.

RZSS, which runs the park, said Victoria had gone past the last possible date for giving birth this year.

Victoria's enclosure was put off limits to visitors in October.

This was done to protect her from being disturbed if she was pregnant and RZSS said she had been taken "off show".

Image copyright RZSS/HWP
Image caption Polar bears Victoria, left, and Arktos

Douglas Richardson, head of living collections at the park, said: "Victoria, our female polar bear, has now gone past the last possible date for giving birth this year.

"Although we never knew for certain that she was pregnant as there is no proven pregnancy test for polar bears, all of the observed behaviours indicated that Victoria might be and it was appropriate for us to manage her as if she was.

"Last year provided very valuable behavioural observations and it gave us a better insight into Victoria's specific personality and preferences, which will be used to inform how we proceed with her in 2017. Victoria is now back on show to visitors."

Image copyright Alex Riddell
Image caption Victoria was brought to the Highland Wildlife Park, which also has two male bears, last year

Polar bear cubs were last born in the UK almost 25 years ago.

Victoria was brought to Scotland from Aalborg Zoo in Denmark last year and is kept in an enclosure about a mile away from the park's two males, Arktos and Walker. She previously raised cubs in 2008.

Arktos was moved to Victoria's enclosure for a short time last year.

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