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For the first time in 25 years, a female polar bear has given birth to a cub in the UK.
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) confirmed the birth at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig after the staff heard high-pitched sounds from the maternity unit of the mother bear, Victoria.
Una Richardson, the park’s head keeper, said: “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.”
The park will, however, keep Victoria’s enclosure closed to the public until March.
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.”
The last polar bear cubs born in the UK were twins at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire on 8 December 1992.
In another news, a polar bear cub at a Berlin zoo died aged 26 days.