Polar bear lovers in Scotland hoping to capture a glimpse of Hamish – the first cub to be born in the UK for 25 years – had better be quick as he is due to move south next month.
The cub, currently enjoying life at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie, will leave his north base on November 4 to take up residency at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
— Highland Wildlife Park (@HighlandWPark) October 15, 2020
Hamish, who was born on December 18, 2017, is moving home following a recommendation from the European Endangered Species Programme.
The beloved bear first emerged from his cubbing den in March 2018 and has become one of the main draws in attracting visitors to the park.
Keepers have said he will be missed, however, they feel the time is right for him to leave mum Victoria.
Senior animal keeper Rachel Williams said: “In the wild, polar bear cubs will stay with their mothers for two to three years, so this is a natural time for Hamish to be moving on and I’m sure Victoria will appreciate some peace and quiet.
“It has been an incredible two and a half years watching him grow and he will be missed by everyone here at the park.
“There’s still time for visitors to come and say goodbye before Hamish leaves on Wednesday, November 4, he is still a very playful bear.”
David Field, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s chief executive, said, “A critical part of our role as a wildlife conservation charity is education. Hamish has made a tremendous impression on the thousands of people who visited the park since his birth two and a half years ago, and the billions who saw the news around the world.
“He has helped to highlight the threats many species face in the wild and the changes we can undertake to really make a difference.
“Changes in the Arctic climate mean the sea ice that wild polar bears, and other animals, depend on for survival is shrinking and it is predicted this will significantly decrease population numbers over the next 40 years.
“Hamish has been and continues to be an incredible ambassador for his relatives in the wild.”
Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s head of animals, Dr Matt Hartley, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Hamish to Project Polar where he will join our other male bears.
“Yorkshire Wildlife Park participates in the European Endangered Species Programme by housing sub-adult males during the important period of their development prior to becoming breeding males or retired males that are genetically well represented in the carefully managed population.
“Our expansive reserves allow social interaction, play, exploration and behavioural development that is vital for bear well-being.”