A new arrival has caused great excitement here at the start of 2018. We’ve had the patter of four little feet in the form of the first polar bear cub to born in the UK for 25 years.
Polar bear mum Victoria gave birth at our neighbouring Highland Wildlife Park, at Kincraig, near Aviemore.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) described the birth as an “outstanding achievement which will have interest across the world”, although they stressed that the first three months are perilous for polar bear cubs whether born in the wild or captivity.
Staff at the park said they were absolutely thrilled but were not celebrating prematurely as polar bear cubs have a high mortality rate in the first weeks of life due to their underdeveloped immune system and mother’s exaggerated need for privacy, with any disturbance risking the cub being killed or abandoned.
They said: “We will continue to monitor Victoria and very much hope for the best possible news when she emerges around March.” Until then Victoria’s enclosure will be closed to the public and keeper activity will be at a minimum to give her offspring every chance of survival.
Male polar bears
So, fingers crossed all goes well and you will be able to see the polar bear cub when you come on a Loch Ness cruise with us later this year.
Meanwhile, of course it takes two to tango so we should mention the proud father whose name is Arkos. He is one of the park’s two male polar bears; the other being called Walker. And, if you come this way before March, you can pop over to say hello to them.
We’d like to offer our congratulations to the Highland Wildlife staff on their careful management of these fabulous animals and the work they do as part of the European Endangered Species Programme to protect polar bears in their environment.
Here’s hoping mum and her cub continue to be well.
*Our thanks to Peter Jolly, northpix, for the photograph.