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First polar bear cub born in UK for 25 years to leave Scotland for England

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image copyrightRZSS
image captionHamish was born at the Highland Wildlife Park in December 2017

The first polar bear cub to be born in the UK in 25 years is being moved from his home in Scotland to a park in England.

Hamish, who is now two-and-a-half years old, shares an enclosure with his mother Victoria at the Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore.

His father, Arktos, is in an enclosure in another part of the park.

Hamish's new home will be Doncaster's Yorkshire Wildlife Park, where there are already four polar bears.

The Highland Wildlife Park said Victoria and Arktos could be "paired up" again next year.

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Hamish is due to be transported by road by a team from Yorkshire on Wednesday.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) had always planned to move him to another zoo once he was old enough to leave his mother.

In the wild, polar bear cubs usually leave their mothers after two to three years.

image copyrightJon Paul Orsi/RZSS/PA
image captionHamish and his mother share an enclosure

Keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park have been familiarising Hamish with his travel crate for more than a year, rewarding him with one of his favourite treats - hotdogs, a piece of salmon or cod liver oil - whenever he entered it.

Keith Gilchrist, animal collections manager at the park, said while Hamish had a strong bond with Victoria now, that relationship would "breakdown" as he matured.

Mr Gilchrist said the potential of Victoria breeding again also meant there would not be space at the park for Hamish.

Hamish was born in December 2017 and his name was chosen through a public vote.

Thousands of people visited the park to catch a glimpse of the cub after the enclosure he shared with Victoria was reopened to the public in March 2018.

Rachel Williams, senior animal keeper at Highland Wildlife Park, said the "playful" bear would be missed by everyone at the park.

image copyrightRZSS
image captionHamish is due to leave the Highland Wildlife Park for Yorkshire on Wednesday

She said: "Hamish has made a tremendous impression on the thousands of people who visited the park since his birth and helped to highlight the threats many species face in the wild.

"It is exciting to see him moving on and playing his part in the European Endangered Species Programme.

"We're sure Victoria will appreciate some peace and quiet before any next steps in the breeding programme."

Ms Williams added: "All being well, we hope to pair her with Arktos again next year."

Bear necessities: A brief guide to polar cubs

image captionBBC's Frozen Planet featured an adult bear Walker when he was still a cub
  • Polar bears mate between March and June
  • Females normally give birth to one or two cubs in November or December
  • Newborn polar bear cubs are blind, about 30cm (12in) long and weigh little more than a guinea pig. They only open their eyes when they are a month old
  • Victoria, who was born in 1996 at Rostock Zoo in Germany, previously gave birth at Aalborg Zoo in Denmark in 2008. She arrived at the Highland Wildlife Park in March 2015
  • Arktos arrived at the park in April 2012 from Hanover Zoo in Germany. He was born in 2008 at Vienna Zoo

Related Topics

  • Polar bears
  • Animals
  • Doncaster
  • Aviemore

More on this story

  • Highland polar bear Hamish to leave Scotland