A Highland Wildlife Park polar bear cub is born as keepers share the joy

Staff at a popular Scottish animal park reacted with delight to news of the birth of a baby polar bear cub.

Highland Wildlife Park rangers were thrilled when they first heard the distinct high-pitched sounds of cubs coming from the den earlier this week.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) park near Aviemore shared CCTV footage captured from the den showing the mother and cub napping.

Vickie Larkin, team leader of enthusiastic carnivores at Highland Wildlife Park, said the coming months will be crucial. She said: “This is a tremendous opportunity and a testament to the hard work of our team.

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

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

CCTV footage captured in the den shows mum and little one napping

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

The news comes after mother Victoria, who was paired again with male polar bear Arktos, previously gave birth to Hamish, the UK’s first polar bear cub in 25 years, in December 2017 after they last met.

As part of the breeding program for the species, Hamish moved to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in November 2020.

Vickie added that they hope Victoria and Arktos will produce another cub when they are reintroduced for the breeding season in February.

CCTV footage captured in the den shows mum and little one napping
CCTV footage captured in the den shows mum and little one napping

She said: “Victoria is a very caring mother and we are delighted to say that they are both doing well so far.

“We won’t know if the little one is a boy or a girl until we can do checkups in the spring and they will be named soon after.

“Polar bears are born blind and do not open their eyes until they are a month old. At the moment, the young are about a foot long and weigh about the same as a guinea pig.

Public viewing is currently closed to give mum Victoria and her child plenty of peace and quiet.

Papa Arktos and Walker, the park‘s other male polar bear, can still be spotted in their enclosure.

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