Tuesday, 23 February 2016

New phase in Scottish polar bear breeding project

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter
19 February 2016

An attempt to breed polar bears in Scotland looks set to go ahead this year.
Polar bear cubs were last born in the UK almost 25 years ago.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has begun preparations to pair up two bears at its Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore.
A crate has been placed in the male bears' enclosure which will be used to transport Arktos to where the female, Victoria, is kept.

RZSS said captive breeding formed an important part of conserving polar bears, which are classified as "vulnerable" on the International Union Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

But animal welfare organisations OneKind Scotland and Born Free Foundation said tackling climate change to better protect wild bears should be the focus of conservation efforts rather than captive breeding.

Arktos shares an enclosure with a younger male bear called Walker.

Genetically important
The older bear has been selected for breeding because he is considered to be a genetically more important male, according to RZSS. Walker's genes are already well represented within the captive population.

Victoria, who was brought to Scotland from Aalborg Zoo in Denmark last year and is kept in an enclosure about a mile away from the males, previously raised cubs in 2008.

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