Bear with us '“ zoo staff await news on new cub
A high-pitched squeal from the maternity pen of Victoria the polar bear alerted staff at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie to the new arrival – the first to be born in the UK for 25 years.
Staff there described the birth as an “outstanding achievement” but stressed that the first three months can be perilous for polar bear cubs, both in the wild and in captivity.
It was in December 1992 at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire that a polar bear last gave birth in Britain – on that occasion to twins. The latest birth followed last year’s mating season, in which Victoria was paired with Arktos, one of the Scottish park’s two males. She previously gave birth at Aalborg Zoo in Denmark in 2008.
New-born polar bear cubs are blind, around 30cm long and weigh little more than a guinea pig.
Una Richardson, the park’s head keeper 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.
“While we are absolutely thrilled, we are not celebrating prematurely as polar bear cubs have a high mortality rate in the first weeks of life due to their undeveloped immune system.”