18/12/2018 in Highland Wildlife Park
Above: See how much Hamish has grown! - Select footage courtesy Channel 4/STV Productions
Hamish, the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years, is celebrating his first birthday at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park today.
Born on 18 December 2017, Hamish took his first steps outside in March and has since attracted over 200,000 visitors to the Park, almost doubling previous records.
Anyone who shares the cub’s name or birthday is being given free entry today and may catch a glimpse of Hamish being treated to a unique birthday cake with treats and presents from keepers.
Una Richardson, head carnivore keeper at Highland Wildlife Park, said: “It has been an incredible year and we’re really excited to be celebrating Hamish’s first birthday today. We’re hoping Hamish enjoys the day as much as us, and we’ve made him a special birthday cake made from ice and presents filled with his favourite treats.
“Our mischievous cub has grown so much since he took his first steps outside in March and is rapidly catching up to his mum, Victoria, although he still has some way to go until he reaches his full adult size, as male polar bears can weigh up to 800 kilograms.”
In the wild, polar bear cubs will stay with their mothers for two to three years, learning key survival skills before leaving to start their own families. When Hamish is ready to leave Victoria, it is hoped he will play a role in the European endangered species breeding programme.
Barbara Smith, RZSS chief executive, said: “Hamish’s arrival has helped us to highlight the threats that many wild animals are facing and the small changes we can make to really make a big difference.
“As a wildlife conservation charity, we believe we have a duty to help protect this magnificent species which is predicted to significantly reduce in numbers over the next 40 years as the reduction in sea ice, the polar bear’s primary seal hunting platform, continues.
“Our polar bears are part of the European Endangered Species Programme and we hope when Hamish is older, he will help to reinforce the captive population, which may be needed in the future to help support and restore a markedly reduced and fragmented wild population.”