​First Polar Bear Cub To Be Born In 25 Years In UK Emerges From Den

The first polar bear to be born in the UK for 25 years has emerged from its den at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig.

The cub was apparently born a week before Christmas - after its mother Victoria mated with one of two male polar bears at the park - but up until recently its arrival had only been confirmed by high-pitched noises heard from the maternity den.

Victoria's enclosure has been closed to the public, but is expected to reopen to park visitors later this month.

The first image of the cub has been released, and has been taken from footage filmed by STV Productions for a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary called Britain's Polar Bear Cub, which will air on Sunday 18 March.

JUST LOOK AT IT. Literally, scroll back up and look at it.

The cub's dad, Arktos. Credit: PA
The cub's dad, Arktos. Credit: PA

Barbara Smith, Chief Executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: "The birth of the first polar bear in the UK for 25 years is a tremendous achievement and testament to the team at our Highland Wildlife Park, where we have developed a world-leading polar bear management programme.

"We have been delighted to work with STV Productions and Channel 4 to tell this story as it is vital to raise awareness of the ever-increasing threats polar bears face in the wild and to do all we can to safeguard the future of this magnificent species."

Channel 4 has said in a press statement that the cub was captured by remote cameras, and that the new documentary will follow the 'huge undertaking' as keepers attempt to mate Victoria - Britain's only female polar bear - with the male bear called Arktos.


Una Richardson, head keeper responsible for carnivores, added: "I was visiting Victoria on Sunday morning to check she had fresh water and to continue slowly reintroducing food to her diet, after four months during which she lived solely off the fat reserves she built up before she entered her den.

"Suddenly I saw a small, fluffy bundle next to her and had to pinch myself to check I wasn't seeing things.

"It was a very special experience and one I'll never forget. We also have motion-sensitive cameras safely positioned near Victoria's den and we were delighted to see we had captured her cub's first few steps outside.

"Having only been able to hear sounds from inside the den before, we can now be certain Victoria has had one cub rather than two and we couldn't be happier as this is the moment we have been working towards and really looking forward to.

She continued: "Both mum and cub appear to be doing well, though this is still a sensitive time and they need as much peace and quiet as possible. Our keeper activity at their enclosure will remain at a minimum for the next couple of weeks, after which visitors will be able to see Victoria and our wonderful new arrival.

Una added that in the coming week's they're also hoping to find out if the cub is a boy or a girl - which is when they'll be able to give the little bundle of fluff a name.

Featured Image Credit: Channel 4/STV Productions

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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