It's been a quarter of a century but a polar bear cub has now been born in Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park.
Having given birth over Christmas 2017, the cub was only seen by visitors for the first time in March as the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s park gave Mumma Bear all the privacy she needed with her newborn.
Douglas Richardson, the Park’s ‘Head of Living Collections’ commented on how important this birth is to the future of the species:
"Some may wonder whether there is any point in breeding polar bears in zoos and the question deserves a serious answer. The change in the Arctic climate, specifically the shortening of the ice season, coupled with more direct human pressures, is having a noticeably detrimental effect on the species that is likely to result in many of the wild sub-populations disappearing.
If we do not develop and maintain a genetically and behaviourally robust captive polar bear population, we will not have the option, should we require it, to use them to support what is likely to be a diminished and fragmented wild population in the future.”
Polar bear leaping
To honor this new arrival, we have put together some fun facts so you know what to expect as the little one grows older:
How big are they?
They can weigh up to 700 kg making them the largest land based carnivore. Not only are they carnivores but they are hyper carnivores, this means a huge 70% of their diet is meat! Definitely not a vegan! You can also dispute how land based they are as officially they are classed as a marine mammal.
What colour are they?
That an easy one, obviously white, well no. Their skin is actually black but their hair is translucent. Its just the way it reflects light that makes it appear white. Its perfect for them to blend into the background.
How do they smell?
Amazing! A polar bear can detect a seal, their favourite food, a metre under the ice! Sadly this great sense of smell means as humans encroach upon their habitat these highly sensitive noises can pick up garbage. Bears will eat practically anything even if its not good for them, such as plastic and even car batteries!
What about their future?
Like many arctic creatures the ice plays a huge role for them. Melting ice means fewer places to hunt, rest and breed. Oil exploration also affects their natural habitat. If you want to find out more about these magnificent creatures and the threats they face, head to the WWF website, where you can learn more great facts and even adopt one yourself, all in the name of conservation!