Highland polar bear Hamish to leave Scotland

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Polar bear cubImage source, RZSS/Siân Addison
Image caption,
Hamish was born at the Highland Wildlife Park in 2017

The first polar bear cub to be born in the UK in 25 years is to be moved from his home in Scotland to a park in England.

Hamish, who is now two-and-a-half years old, shares an enclosure with his mother Victoria at the Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore.

The park's owner, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), said he will be moved in late October.

Hamish's new home will be the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster.

It was always RZSS' plan to move the bear to another zoo. As well as Hamish and Victoria it has two adult male polar bears.

The Yorkshire park already has polar bears and is part of a European breeding programme.

Image source, RZSS
Image caption,
Hamish shares an enclosure with his mother Victoria

Hamish was born in December 2017. His name was chosen following a public vote.

The cub's father, Arktos, is kept in an area in a different part of Highland Wildlife Park along with another adult male named Walker.

Before Hamish, the last polar bear cubs born in the UK were twins at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire in December 1992.

Image source, Vicki Larkin/RZSS
Image caption,
Hamish playing with a barrel at a pond in his enclosure

In the wild, polar bear cubs usually leave their mothers after two to three years.

Rachel Williams, senior animal keeper at Highland Wildlife Park, said: "It has been an incredible two and a half years watching him grow and he will be missed by everyone here at the park."

Yorkshire Wildlife Park's head of animals, Dr Matt Hartley, said the park was looking forward to welcoming Hamish.

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."