New polar bear cub born at Highland Wildlife Park

A tiny polar bear cub has been born at the Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore in the Highlands, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has announced.

Staff at the wildlife conservation charity were delighted when they heard the distinctive high-pitched sounds of a cub coming from the den earlier this week, but have said that the coming months are crucial.

The zoo was previously home to Hamish, the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years.

Now, Hamish’s mother, Victoria has given birth to another cub who will be named in spring of 2022.

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Vickie Larkin,carnivore team leader at Highland Wildlife Park said the birth was a “tremendous occasion” and a testament to the team’s hard work.

She said: “While we are excited about the new arrival, we are not celebrating quite yet as the first few weeks of a polar bear’s life is critical, with potential immune system complications and mum’s need for privacy during this time our top priority.”

The team won’t know if the newborn is a boy or a girl until they are able to perform health checks in the spring of 2022.

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Hamish was born at the Highland Wildlife Park in 2017 but staff won't been able to get to the most recent new born until spring 2022. (Picture credit: RZSS/SIÂN ADDISON)

Ms Larkin continued: “Polar bears are born blind and do not open their eyes until they are a month old.

“At the moment the youngster is about a foot long and weighs roughly the same as a guinea pig.”

Victoria gave birth to Hamish in 2017, and as part of the breeding programme he was moved to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in November 2020.

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Arktos, Hamish’s father, was paired with Victoria again earlier this year during breeding season and Ms Larkin said staff

Hamish playing in his enclosure when he was at the Highland Wildlife Park. (Picture credit: VICKI LARKIN/RZSS)

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were hopeful their match would produce another cub.

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She continued: “Like all the animals in our care, our polar bears play an important role in attracting and engaging thousands of visitors each year so that they can learn about the threats animals face in the wild, and the action they can take to help.

“Their power to connect with people, with nature and encourage behaviour change is invaluable.”

Both Victoria and her tiny cub are doing well so far.

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