England's only polar bear colony got a new arrival today - in the form of a 12-year-old male weighing half a ton.Rasputin the Russian bear had to leave his former home in the south of France after posing a danger to the four young polar cubs had fathered.So the mighty mammal arrived at the Yorkshire wildlife park in Doncaster this morning (tues) after a gruelling 1,000 mile journey from Antibes in the South of France.
He was loaded on to crate and transported by lorry to Calais, where he took a ferry to Dover before travelling by road to the North of England.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park is the only place in the England that homes polar bears, with four other males, called Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby, already living there.
Dr Matt Hartley, head of animals at the park, said: "Rasputin's arrival is very exciting and I am sure he is going to settle in very well." Rasputin was born in Moscow in 2008 before moving to France two years later, where he mated with a female and recently fathered four adorable cubs.
He has had to move away for the safety of the young bears, as adult males have been known to kill and eat their own offspring.
Following discussions with the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), Rasputin's keeper Bruce Walton transported the mammal overseas.
Dr Hartley said: "We were pleased when we found out the park was recommended by the EEP as Rasputin's new home.
"We have a unique mix of bears at 'Project Polar', which is always a favourite with visitors as they are active and charismatic - and all completely different characters."We are committed to our conservation work at the park and through the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation working together with polar bears International and believe that he will be another great Polar bear ambassador.
"He will help us move forward in our fight to ensure polar bears can ultimately survive the the damage climate change is causing to their environment."Mr Walton, who has been with Rasputin since he moved to France, described the mammal as a "lovely bear" who will "have a ball" in Yorkshire.He added that the move had to be carried out in cold weather for the bear's comfort.
His 1,000 mile journey, which has been months in the planning, was facilitated by an experienced team of vets and transport specialists.Rasputin will initially be kept in a separate reserve with his own lake for the first four months that due to quarantine requirements.
He will then be moved to join resident polar bears Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby at the award winning Project Polar, an expansive 10 acres of networked reserves and lakes.
The largest lake is 25ft deep so the bears can dive and play in the cold depths.For more information on the park: https://www.yorkshirewildlifepark.com/