The first polar bear cub born in the UK for 25 years is to move from his Scottish home to a wildlife park in England.
Hamish will leave Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie in the autumn and move to Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s Project Polar habitat after a recommendation from the European Endangered Species Programme.
Born on December 18 2017, he shares an enclosure with his mother Victoria and is now bigger than her.
Keepers say it is the right time for him to leave.
It's been an incredible two + a half years watching our wee yin grow. He will be missed by everyone here💙
— Highland Wildlife Park (@HighlandWPark) August 18, 2020
Rachel Williams, senior animal keeper at Highland Wildlife Park, 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 at the end of October, he is still a very playful bear.”
The exact date of Hamish’s departure from Highland Wildlife Park, run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), is still to be confirmed.
David Field, RZSS 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 the park is delighted to be welcoming Hamish to Project Polar, where he will join the park’s five other male bears.
He said: “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 wellbeing.”