THE team behind Britain’s first polar bear cub in 25 years have not ruled out the patter of more tiny paws in the future.
The cub was born just before Christmas and now the Highland Wildlife Park says another breeding session with mum Victoria, the UK’s only female polar bear, is being considered.
“We would like to do this again if it was possible,” head keeper Una Richardson told The Sunday Post.
“The baby will stay with mum until the same age as it would leave her in the wild at about two-and-a-half.
“At that stage Victoria would be about 23, which is getting up there as far as a polar bear is concerned.
“But they have bred in captivity up to 26 or 27. It would depend on how she was at that stage to go through another pregnancy, but she is certainly in great shape at the moment.”
Victoria mated with Arktos, one of two male polar bears at the park, after he was specially trained to go into a crate so he could be transported to Victoria’s enclosure.
Una, who has been head keeper at the park at Kincraig near Kingussie for seven years, was the first to see the desperately-awaited new arrival.
And the tentative first steps into the open were captured on cameras installed for a new Channel 4 documentary detailing the pioneering breeding programme.
Filming took place over two years for Britain’s Polar Bear Cub, which is being screened at 7pm tonight.
The cub is 90 days old today and having been an estimated 500g, or just one pound, at birth, it is now around 12kg. The weight gain is due to the incredibly rich 38% fat milk from Victoria whose weight rocketed by 150kg before birth to add vital reserves.
Once the cub is big enough in the next week or two, Una and her fellow keepers will try to get close to find out whether it’s a boy or a girl after which they’ll come up with a name.
“That will involve separating it from mum for a few minutes,” said Una.
“She will be a bit upset, so we have to be as quick as we can.”
The new arrival has attracted media interest from around the world and the public will hopefully be allowed their first glimpse later this month.
Britain’s Polar Bear Cub, Sunday 18th March at 7pm on Channel 4
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