25 years have passed since a polar bear was born in Britain – but the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) just announced some exciting news. The United Kingdom’s only female polar bear Victoria recently gave birth to a cub at Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland. And it’s possible there could be more than one – Head Keeper for carnivores Una Richardson said in a statement, “We first heard promising noises in the week before Christmas and these have now continued into the new year. Because we don’t have sight inside her cubbing box we can’t be sure if Victoria has had more than one cub but we can confirm the birth.”
The UK has at least one new animal resident: a baby polar bear! Highland Wildlife Park staff started hearing what the society described as distinct high-pitched sounds from the maternity den, and have now confirmed at least one cub was indeed born. You can listen to the pretty adorable noises in the park’s video below:
RZSS’s statement did caution the first three months are dangerous for the cubs, whether they’re born in captivity or in the wild. The babies are born blind and don’t weigh much more than a guinea pig, so they’re completely dependent on the mother polar bear. Richardson said, “While we are absolutely thrilled, we are not celebrating prematurely as polar bear cubs have a high mortality rate in the first weeks of life due to their undeveloped immune system and the mother’s exaggerated need for privacy, with any disturbance risking the cub being killed or abandoned.”
Naturally the park is taking steps to give the baby or babies a chance. Richardson said they’re monitoring Victoria, and her enclosure is closed to the public. Keeper activity will be kept to a minimum too. If all goes well, visitors might be able to glimpse the cub (or cubs) around March.