Birthday cake for Highland Wildlife Park polar bears

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HIGHLAND polar bears Walker and Arktos received an icy treat for their birthday as they prepare to welcome a mate in the spring.

The bears at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie in the Highlands were fed frozen “cakes” of sardines, carrots and nuts as they celebrated turning six and seven respectively.

Scotland's only Polar Bears Walker (left) and Arktos in the snow. Picture: PA

Scotland's only Polar Bears Walker (left) and Arktos in the snow. Picture: PA

Keepers said the snowy weather provided an extra present for the male bears, who rolled and slid around together in their enclosure as the temperature hovered around zero.

They pounced on the cakes and scratched at them with their large paws, as wild polar bears do when breaking through the ice to get to seals in their native Arctic habitat.

The bears’ ages means that next year they will be introduced to a female polar bear with the hope of producing a cub at the visitor attraction.

Work is under way on a new enclosure at the opposite end of the park in preparation for her arrival.

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Una Richardson, head keeper for the carnivores at the Highland Wildlife Park, said: “The weather has been an extra birthday treat for them. We’ve got some lovely fresh snow on the ground which they have been enjoying.

“They really like the snow. The first day it came they were running from one side of the enclosure to the other and rolling down hills. The landscape is constantly changing in the snow and they enjoy that.

“Walker has, as usual, been investigating the cakes a little more than Arktos, who tends to get distracted more easily.

“They got on so well and they have done from the first day we put them together, to the point that Arktos doesn’t like to be separated from Walker for any length of time.

“We are very lucky as it does depend on the individual personalities of the bears.

“They are just coming up to the age of sexual maturity and in light of that we’ll hopefully be getting a girlfriend for one of them next year.”

Walker, whose birthday was on Sunday, arrived at the park in 2010 from Rhenen Zoo in the Netherlands and Arktos joined him from Vienna two years later. His birthday was on November 30.

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