The first polar bear has been born in the United Kingdom for 25 years! The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) can announce that its resident female polar bear Victoria has given birth at the Highland Wildlife Park.
Describing the birth as an “outstanding achievement which will have interest across the world”, the charity stressed that the first three months are perilous for polar bear cubs, whether wild or captive born.
Staff at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, at Kincraig near Kinguissie, confirmed the birth having heard distinct high-pitched sounds from Victoria’s maternity den, which remains closed to visitors to ensure privacy.
Una Richardson, the park’s Head Keeper responsible for carnivores, said, “We first heard promising noises in the week before Christmas and these have now continued into the new year. Because we don’t have sight inside her cubbing box we can’t be sure if Victoria has had more than one cub but we can confirm the birth.”
Newborn polar bear cubs are blind, around 30cm long and weigh little more than a guinea pig. They only open their eyes when they are a month old and are entirely dependent on their mother, feeding on fat-rich milk to grow quickly, weighing around ten to 12 kg by the time they leave their den.
The last polar bear cubs born in the UK were twins at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire on 8 December 1992. Victoria, who previously gave birth in 2008, arrived at the RZSS Highland Wildlife Park in March 2015 from Aalborg Zoo in Denmark, having been born in 1996 at Rostock Zoo in Germany.
Victoria previously gave birth at Aalborg Zoo in Denmark in 2008, having been born in 1996 at Rostock Zoo in Germany. She arrived at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park in March 2015.
Polar bears mate between March and June, with females normally giving birth to one or two cubs in November or December.
Victoria has her own large custom-built enclosure. She is the only female polar bear in the UK. Good luck to all of the polar bear family and all the carers at the park!