A baby polar bear has been born in Britain for the first time in 25 years

Kieran Corcoran
16_3_20_Polar_bear_mating_2_Credit_RZSS_AlexRiddell

RZSS/Alex Riddell


  • A mother polar bear gave birth in the Scottish Highlands last month.
  • Staff at her enclosure announced the birth after the cub survived its precarious first few weeks of life.
  • Nobody can get close enough for pictures yet, but there's audio recorded.
  • If it lives, the cub (or cubs) will emerge in the springtime.
  • No polar bears have been born in the UK since 1992.


A baby polar bear has been born in the United Kingdom for the first time in 25 years, and has survived the dangerous first few weeks of its life.

The cub was born around December 18 to Victoria, a 21-year-old female from Germany, and Arktos, a nine-year-old male from Austria.

The birth took place in a den at the Highland Wildlife Park in the Scottish Highlands. Staff at the park have not intruded on Victoria and her offspring because disturbances could upset the new family.

As a result, they haven't been able to take pictures, confirm the baby's gender, or even say for sure whether there is more than one cub in there.

But they did get close enough to record a brief audio clip of the baby bear(s), which you can listen to here:

Youtube Embed:
http://www.youtube.com/embed/7lIfFJgmJsY
Width: 800px
Height: 450px

Polar bear cubs are around 30cm long when they are born and weigh about as much as a guinea pig. They are blind and entirely dependent on their mother's milk to survive their early months.

Any offspring aren't expected to emerge from the den until they're about three months old, and weigh around 11kg, the same as a small dog. Here's what they look like when that happens:

Polar bear cubs, Denver Zoo, 1999

Reuters

Baby polar bears have high infant mortality rates, so the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which runs the park, held off announcing the birth until the risk first weeks had passed.

In a press release, the society 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.

"We will continue to monitor Victoria and very much hope for the best possible news when she emerges around March.

"Until then, Victoria’s enclosure will be closed to the public and keeper activity will be at a minimum to give her offspring every chance of survival."

The last polar bear to be born in the UK were twins born at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire in 1992.

Since then, the UK has imported all its bears. Victoria was born in Germany and spent time in Copenhagen, where she gave birth in 2008, before coming to Scotland.

Artkos was born in Vienna Zoo, Austria, in 2008. He too spent time in Germany, and came to the UK in 2012, when he was four.

Victoria is the only female polar bear in the UK, though there are several males.

NOW WATCH: Here's why most planes are white

See Also:

  • Carole Middleton visits daughter Pippa and newborn baby boy at Chelsea home
    News
    Hello!

    Carole Middleton visits daughter Pippa and newborn baby boy at Chelsea home

    Carole Middleton played the doting grandmother on Friday as she was spotted visiting her daughter Pippa's house. Photos obtained by the Mail Online show Carole, 63, walking into Pippa's Chelsea home and picking up parcels that were left outside. Among them were some personalised baby gifts and a luxury hamper filled to the brim with goodies.

  • Loose Women accidentally shares Joe Swash's phone number
    News
    Digital Spy

    Loose Women accidentally shares Joe Swash's phone number

    He's probably been inundated with calls.

  • People might actually like you more than you think, and it's to do with the 'liking gap' – here's what that is
    News
    Evening Standard

    People might actually like you more than you think, and it's to do with the 'liking gap' – here's what that is

    "It's basically our finding that after a conversation with someone new, your conversation partner might like you more than you realise," Boothby explains. Subjects were harsher on themselves about their own first impression, suggesting they may have higher standards for themselves than for others, possibly, Boothby points out, because they know they could have done better.

  • Netflix TV shows: The 25 best series to watch on Netflix UK
    News
    The Independent

    Netflix TV shows: The 25 best series to watch on Netflix UK

    Netflix's televised revolution began in earnest in February 2013, when the machiavellian political schemer Frank Underwood looked straight into the camera and casually snapped a dog’s neck. It was the first episode of House of Cards – a $100 million TV series that would only be available on the Internet. Netflix was a major winner at the Emmys, its haul of 23 awards attesting to its power-player status.

  • News
    motor1

    Euro NCAP is now evaluating so-called Highway Assist systems

    Believe it or not, no cars on the market are fully autonomous, says the organisation.

  • On the frontline of world's worst humanitarian crisis
    Sky video

    On the frontline of world's worst humanitarian crisis

    WARNING: This report contains distressing images. Sky News visits Yemen as starving civilians flee the war there.

  • Pictures of the Week: Pies, pumpkins and Prince Harry
    Yahoo News UK

    Pictures of the Week: Pies, pumpkins and Prince Harry

    Here’s our selection of some of the most memorable moments from around the world over the past week.

  • This low pass by a Ukrainian fighter pilot is absolutely insane to watch
    News
    Business Insider UK

    This low pass by a Ukrainian fighter pilot is absolutely insane to watch

    It’s pretty obvious: Ukrainian Air Force pilots fly low quite often and new videos showing a Ukrainian jet buzzing someone at airbases around the country appear regularly. On Sept. 30 we have posted a clip of a Su-24M Fencer buzzing the flight line at an airbase in Ukraine, probably Starokostiantyniv or “Staro”, the main operating base of exercise Clear Sky 2018. The footage was particularly impressive as the Su-24 flew over a bunch of other Fencers parked on a ramp by matter of a few meters.

  • Sagrada Familia cathedral gets building licence 130 years after work began
    News
    Reuters

    Sagrada Familia cathedral gets building licence 130 years after work began

    More than 130 years after construction first began, Barcelona's towering Sagrada Familia cathedral is finally to get a building permit, the city council and the monument's official blog said. Cranes and scaffolding still flank the ornate spires of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi's most famous monument, which draws some 20 million visitors a year. Under an agreement announced on Thursday, the basilica will pay city authorities 36 million euros ($41 million) to help fund Barcelona's public transport system and to revamp nearby streets, thus ending a dispute over the building's legality.

  • Winter burglary warning as it's revealed homes at much greater risk when clocks go back
    News
    Yahoo News UK

    Winter burglary warning as it's revealed homes at much greater risk when clocks go back

    Insurance company warns that home burglaries have spiked over 30% in the past four winters

  • Best gin Christmas gifts
    News
    Evening Standard

    Best gin Christmas gifts

    Make gin lovers rejoice with England’s best loved treasures, from hampers with everything you need to create the killer Christmas cocktail, to beauty products taking inspiration from the famed spirit. There is no shortage on gin-goodies this year and we've rounded up some of the most sought after treats for every type of gin drinker for Christmas 2018. If you're looking for a gin advent calendar then be sure to check out our Best Gin advent calendars for Christmas 2018.

  • Jonny Bairstow a doubt for fourth ODI after injuring ankle playing football in training
    News
    Evening Standard

    Jonny Bairstow a doubt for fourth ODI after injuring ankle playing football in training

    Jonny Bairstow could sit out England’s Fourth ODI against Sri Lanka on Saturday after picking up an ankle injury while playing football during training on the eve of the game. Bairstow is the leading scorer in all One-Day International cricket this year with 1,025 and has been a revelation since being promoted to open the batting last June. The injury is not thought to threaten Bairstow’s place in England’s Test side for the three-match series next month but if it were to continue troubling him, he will go for a scan when the squad is in Colombo on Sunday.

  • Tina Turner opens up about son Craig's suicide: 'I still don't know what took him to the edge'
    News
    Evening Standard

    Tina Turner opens up about son Craig's suicide: 'I still don't know what took him to the edge'

    Tina Turner has opened up about losing her son Craig to suicide earlier this year, saying she has “no idea what pulled him down”. Craig was found dead in July at his Los Angeles home, aged 59 . Speaking to BBC News, Turner said: “I still don't know what took him to the edge because, at that stage, he had said to me that he had never met a woman that he felt that way about.

  • Cameroon court rejects all petitions calling for re-run of elections
    News
    Reuters

    Cameroon court rejects all petitions calling for re-run of elections

    Cameroon's Constitutional Council on Friday rejected the last of 18 petitions calling for a re-run of an Oct. 7 election that the opposition said was marred by fraud, paving the way for results expected to extend President Paul Biya's 36-year rule. The elections went ahead with scattered instances of violence in the Anglophone South West and North West regions where a separatist insurgency is trying to split from Yaounde.

  • News
    Business Insider UK

    3 crewmembers die on board Iranian ship, 8 hospitalized

    Azerbaijani health officials say three members of an Iranian ship crew have died from acute poisoning and another eight have been hospitalized. The ship contacted Azerbaijani authorities to request assistance while approaching its destination, the port of Baku. An Azerbaijani coast guard boat delivered the ill members of the crew to the shore early Friday and they were hospitalized.

  • Salvatore Mannino: Italian father who disappeared near Pisa turns up in Edinburgh hospital
    News
    The Independent

    Salvatore Mannino: Italian father who disappeared near Pisa turns up in Edinburgh hospital

    An Italian father-of-four who vanished from his home near Pisa nearly a month ago has turned up – in an Edinburgh hospital some 1,200 miles away. Salvatore Mannino is thought to have been unable to tell doctors who he was or how he came to be in the city. Italian and Scottish police were able to piece together that the cases were linked when officers in Pisa discovered Mr Mannino had looked at weather forecasts for Edinburgh before he vanished, it is reported.

  • Georgia Steel SLAMS Sam Bird for accusing her of cheating with ex
    News
    Evening Standard

    Georgia Steel SLAMS Sam Bird for accusing her of cheating with ex

    Georgia Steel has accused Sam Bird of creating an “imaginary scenario” after he claimed her ex-boyfriend was the reason behind their split. Steel and Bird called time on their relationship on Thursday, weeks after they set up home together following their summer stint on Love Island. “Devastated” Bird shut down reports Steel had cheated with her manager Steven West, instead suggesting her ex was involved.

  • Police car hits teenager near Clapham Common in south London
    News
    The Independent

    Police car hits teenager near Clapham Common in south London

    A police car hit a teenager near Clapham Common in south London on Friday, witnesses told The Independent. Several witnesses said the Metropolitan Police officers were responding to a fight when their car struck the 18-year-old male shortly after 3.30pm. London ambulance services were called to the scene and the teenager was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

  • You have a few hours left to help change the lives of non-binary people like me – please don't waste this momentous opportunity
    News
    The Independent

    You have a few hours left to help change the lives of non-binary people like me – please don't waste this momentous opportunity

    Over the past six months, trans and non-binary identities have been thoroughly discussed and debated, often turning our lives and lived experiences into topics for people to judge. Living in the UK as someone who identifies as non-binary is difficult and beautiful all at the same time. As I live in London, being able to surround yourself myself with other queer and non-binary people is something I am privileged to be able to experience, and the sense of community is a source of strength and love for me.

  • Scottish farmer tells of feeling devastated after BSE case found in herd
    News
    The Guardian

    Scottish farmer tells of feeling devastated after BSE case found in herd

    ‘We have built up our closed herd over many years and have always taken great pride in doing all the correct things,’ said Thomas Jackson. A farmer in Scotland has spoken about the devastating effect of learning that a case of BSE had been found among his herd. Thomas Jackson’s farm in Lumsden, Aberdeenshire, has been put under quarantine after a five-year-old cow that died was found to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

  • Best Instagram-famous beauty products of 2018
    News
    Evening Standard

    Best Instagram-famous beauty products of 2018

    Gone are the days of perusing beauty halls to find the one you want. Now, a simple scroll through Instagram will present hundreds of potential options. In fact, thanks to the rise of makeup pages and the skintellectual influencer, we now know more about beauty than ever before.

  • News
    Business Insider UK

    Texas toddler left at stranger's house, instead of with dad

    The woman who left the child, a friend of the mother, was initially suspected of child abandonment after video, shared widely on social media, showed her hoisting the toddler by the arm to a stranger's house in the northern Houston suburb of Spring on Thursday, authorities said. "The suspect in the video dropped the child off after the father had left the residence and at the wrong address," Lieutenant Scott Spencer of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post. "The female in the video then left location without verifying anyone was home or who she was releasing the child to," Spencer said.

  • Carrots could be key to making greener buildings, say researchers
    News
    Reuters

    Carrots could be key to making greener buildings, say researchers

    Crunchy and tasty, yes, but could carrots also strengthen cement and cut carbon dioxide emissions for the building industry? A group of researchers at Britain's Lancaster University has been using a household food blender to mix particles from the root vegetable with concrete to see if they can produce a stronger and more environmentally sound product.     "We found out you could increase the strength of concrete by 80 percent by using a small amount of this new material," lead researcher Mohamed Saafi told Reuters.

  • After hearing how France wants to treat us after Brexit, I think it might be the end of my love affair with the country
    News
    The Independent

    After hearing how France wants to treat us after Brexit, I think it might be the end of my love affair with the country

    France has said that if we leave the EU without an agreement, the British will be treated as “third country” citizens, according to reports this week. Although Macron has publicly tried to reassure people that that won’t happen, a draft law has been tabled in the French parliament that will let the government set new rules for UK citizens travelling to France after Brexit – so why should we believe him?