Weighty problem proves no bother for Mercedes

PERSUADING any female to step on the scales can be a daunting and sensitive task. When she's an older woman in the 45-stone category it can take a little longer.

Mercedes, the only polar bear in a UK zoo, has had to receive special training to step on to mechanical scales at her enclosure at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore.

Yesterday, at her first weigh-in, she tipped the scales at a healthy 291kg (45.8st).

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Since arriving at Kincraig last October from sister site Edinburgh Zoo, staff have been training Mercedes to use the scales. It will allow them to ensure that correct dosages of medicines are given to the bear, who is 30 years old - in her seventies in human terms.

Douglas Richardson, Highland Wildlife Park animal collection manager, said: "Mercedes is quite gentle for a polar bear, but we still need to be very careful when working near her"