Erster Eisbärnachwuchs seit 25 Jahren - Victoria ist Mama geworden 03.01.2018 / HWP
ZitatFirst polar bear born in UK for 25 years
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) can announce that its resident female polar bear Victoria has given birth at the Highland Wildlife Park. It is the first time a polar bear cub has been born in the UK for 25 years.
Describing the birth as an “outstanding achievement which will have interest across the world”, the charity stressed that the first three months are perilous for polar bear cubs, whether wild or captive born.
Staff at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, at Kincraig near Kinguissie, confirmed the birth having heard distinct high-pitched sounds from Victoria’s maternity den, which remains closed to visitors to ensure privacy.
Una Richardson, the park’s Head Keeper responsible 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 and the mother’s exaggerated need for privacy, with any disturbance risking the cub being killed or abandoned.
“We will continue to monitor Victoria and very much hope for the best possible news when she emerges around March. Until then, Victoria’s enclosure will be closed to the public and keeper activity will be at a minimum to give her offspring every chance of survival.”
New-born polar bear cubs are blind, around 30cm long and weigh little more than a guinea pig. They only open their eyes when they are a month old and are entirely dependent on their mother, feeding on fat-rich milk to grow quickly, weighing around ten to 12 kg by the time they leave their den.
Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, said, “The arrival of a polar bear cub is a tremendous husbandry accomplishment for our team.
“When Victoria arrived here in 2015 it was another tangible step in RZSS developing a new method of captive polar bear management, by providing a naturalistic habitat in a climate that is not so different from the one they have evolved to cope with.
“This success has been based on a radically different approach to their care and husbandry to mirror what would happen in the wild.”
The polar bear breeding season began in March last year, during which Victoria mated with Arktos, one of the park’s two males. Arktos and Walker, the park’s other male polar bear, are hugely popular with visitors and the enclosure they share remains on view.
Barbara Smith, RZSS Chief Executive, said, “The birth of the first polar bear cub in the UK for a quarter of a century is an outstanding achievement which will arouse interest around the world. It is testament to the commitment and professionalism of our team and hugely exciting.
“At RZSS we believe we have a duty to help protect this magnificent species, with the reduction in sea ice, the polar bear’s primary seal hunting platform, predicted to significantly reduce numbers over the next 40 years.
“Our polar bears are part of the European Endangered Species Programme and we hope Victoria’s offspring will survive to reinforce the captive population, which may be needed in the future to augment and help restore a markedly reduced and fragmented wild population.”
Highland Wildlife Park Blog - Zoo keeping from a distance 25/01/2018 in Highland Wildlife Park
ZitatRZSS Highland Wildlife Park Senior Carnivore Keeper Vickie recalls hearing the cub for the first time.
It was such a thrill to announce that our polar bear Victoria had given birth in December.
The first few weeks and months are always a sensitive time but we have now passed the 30-day mark which is really encouraging and with each passing day we are more hopeful of the best possible news when Victoria emerges from her maternity den.
When polar bear cubs are born they are very small and helpless, weighing only around 500g. They go through a rapid growth phase, however, and weigh around 2kg at one month old. Their eyes should also open for the first time when they reach 30 days.
Victoria needs peace and quiet at the moment to ensure she looks after her cub as well as she can, so we intrude as little as possible. Only one member of our keeping staff whom Victoria is familiar with can visit her area each day to check her water (which can freeze during our harsh winter weather) and change the batteries on a Dictaphone we use to record her cub’s vocalisations.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to hear the cub ourselves, though much of their time at this age is spent sleeping!
We are frequently asked questions such as “How many cubs do we think she has?” and “What sex are they?”
By monitoring our Dictaphone recordings and the sounds we have heard, we can only distinguish one cub so we are assuming she hasn’t had more. If she has had only one cub we will be absolutely delighted – we just want them to be healthy.
New Polar Bear Cub Audio
Cubs can emerge from their dens at around three months of age and it will be at some point after this that we'll know the gender. We also try to let our animals rear their young with as little interference as possible.
The heavy snow we have had is perfect weather for Victoria to rear a cub as at this age young cubs cannot thermo-regulate and so can get chilled if the mother is not suitably attentive. Whilst this cold weather might be great for the bears, it can make it challenging for us keepers!
For instance, her enclosure is on the far side of the park and deep snow can make access a challenge, though we have been able to have some fun by providing our two male polar bears, Walker and the dad Arktos, with some ‘snowman enrichment’ which they loved.
Some wintery enrichment for the two maie polar bears, Arktos and Walker
Although we have passed the first month stage, this remains an anxious time for us, as polar bear cubs can have a high mortality rate both in captivity and in the wild. But we certainly can’t help getting a rush of excitement every time we hear the cub’s noise and we get a day closer to finally meeting our special arrival.
We’ll share further updates with you as soon as we can over the coming weeks.
ZitatVeröffentlicht am 10.02.2018 / FB-Seite vom Highland Wildlife Park, Kincraig
Polar bear cub update:
Thank you to everyone who has been asking after Victoria and her offspring. We would also like to remind anyone planning to visit the Park in the coming weeks that while our male polar bears Arktos and Walker are visible, Victoria and her young are still in the cubbing den and they are off view to the public at the moment to ensure they have peace and quiet.
Our keepers are (safely and quietly!) going up to the enclosure daily and are regularly hearing little polar bear cub calls, so we believe everything is still going well. We will update you as soon as we have more news.
Check out our recent blog with the polar bear keepers: