Highlands & Islands

How do you keep a polar bear cub cool in 30C heat?

Polar bear cub Hamish Image copyright RZSS
Image caption Park staff were concerned Hamish would not know how to stay cool in the recent high temperatures

Measures have been taken to keep a polar bear cub cool after temperatures rose to more than 30C in Scotland.

Six-month-old Hamish shares an enclosure with his mother Victoria at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore.

While Victoria knows how to keep herself cool, park staff were concerned the cub would not.

As a result, during the day they have had to stay in a shaded area which is not visible to visitors.

They have also been given blocks of ice with treats, such as pieces of fruit, frozen inside.

In the evening, when it is cooler, the pair have been able to enter the rest of their enclosure.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A polar bear cooling off at Doncaster's Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Image copyright RZSS/Siân Addison
Image caption The cub was born at the Highland Wildlife Park in December
Image copyright Jon Paul Orsi/RZSS/PA
Image caption Cub Hamish and his mother Victoria
Image copyright RZSS
Image caption Hamish was the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK in 25 years

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland-run park's two adult male bears, Arktos and Walker, have been cooling off in a pond in their enclosure.

They have also been given treat-filled ice blocks.

During a previous spell of hot weather, park staff said polar bears can experience high summer temperatures in areas of their natural habitat in Canada.

Image copyright RZSS
Image caption Hamish was given access to the rest of his enclosure in evenings

Earlier this week, temperatures in Aviemore exceeded 30C.

The high temperatures have also been felt widely across the UK, and polar bears at Doncaster's Yorkshire Wildlife Park also sought out the cool of a pond in their enclosure during the hottest periods of the past few days.


Polar bear facts

  • Hamish is the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK in 25 years
  • Victoria, who was born in 1996 at Rostock Zoo in Germany, previously gave birth at Aalborg Zoo in Denmark in 2008. She arrived at RZSS' Highland Wildlife Park in March 2015
  • Male bear Arktos arrived at the park in April 2012 from Hanover Zoo in Germany. He was born in 2008 at Vienna Zoo
  • Arktos shares an enclosure with another male, Walker, whose own time as a cub was the source of a controversy over the BBC's Frozen Planet documentary
  • In the wild, the bears are found in Arctic regions of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Russia and Norway
  • They have black skin under their coats to help them keep warm in winter sunshine

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