Four new polar bears arrive at Doncaster's Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Four new polar bears are settling into their new surroundings in Doncaster as the latest arrivals at the town’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

By Darren Burke
Monday, 14th June 2021, 12:28 pm
The four bears are new arrivals at YWP.
The four bears are new arrivals at YWP.

Flocke and her three cubs have arrived at second Project Polar reserve, after the move to Yorkshire from France was recommended as the best home for them by the European Endangered Species Programme.

At 18 months old, the youngsters are now growing up and are likely to be lively additions to the park.

They will go on display to the public tomorrow (Tuesday) after being unveiled today.

Flocke, aged 12, and her triplets - males Indiana, (known as Indie) and Yuma, and tiny female Tala – will live separately to the park’s resident males who live in the 10-acre Project Polar 1 – Nobby, Luka, Hamish and Sisu.

The new arrivals bring the park’s polar bear total up to eight, which makes Project Polar the largest polar bear centre outside Canada.

Surviving triplets are extremely rare in polar bears but Flocke has followed her ancestors’ genes to become the fourth generation to produce a triplet. It is a once in a decade event in polar bear breeding in zoos or parks.

The four polar bears travelled safely from their previous home at Marineland, in the south of France, to the park, at Auckley, near Doncaster in a meticulously planned operation and their move was recommended by the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which considered YWP as the best home for them.

The bears travelled in two climate-controlled vehicles and every aspect and moment of the journey from Antibes with experienced and dedicated animal transport staff was assessed and monitored to ensure their safety.

Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Animal Director at the park said: “We have been delighted to welcome the new polar bears to YWP, especially a complete family.

"YWP has built a reputation as a leader in polar bear welfare and conservation.

"The bear family are currently in quarantine in their reserve and are settling in well and we hope to be able to announce an opening date for visitors to see them soon – I am sure that our visitors can’t wait to meet them.

“But, more importantly, these moves will help us in our campaign to ensure that polar bears can survive and prosper in the wild.

"The youngsters will enjoy exploring their new reserve and swimming in the lake – it will be great to see them all playing together.”

Flocke and her three youngsters in Project Polar 2 combined with males by Sisu, Luka, Hamish and Nobby in the bachelor reserve Project Polar 1 now make up the largest grouping in Europe and second largest in the world in any zoo or wildlife park.

Sisu and Luka arrived at the park in December 2020 so are also relative newcomers.

In August last year, Victor, who was the UK’s oldest polar bear and who had been resident at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park for a number of years, died at the age of 22.

He arrived in Doncaster in 2014 and died after suffering terminal kidney failure.