Polar bears’ personalities start to show after move to Staffordshire park

Polar bears’ personalities start to show after move to Staffordshire park
Polar bear Hope and her two cubs, Nanook and Noori, are getting settled into their new habitat at Peak Wildlife Park near Leek (Jacob King/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Jacob King

The head keeper of a wildlife park in Staffordshire, which has recently welcomed three polar bears in a first for the park, has said the “individual personalities” of the bears are beginning to show.

Mother polar bear Hope, eight, was relocated to Peak Wildlife Park near Leek, along with her two 19-month-old bear cubs, Nanook and Noori, on June 30.

The polar bears had originally been housed at the Orsa Predator Park in Sweden but were relocated after their park closed down.

Since the move, head keeper at Peak Wildlife Park, Yaz Walker, 32, said the “individual and unique personalities” of the mother bear and her two cubs are starting to show as they settle into their new five-acre habitat.

“It’s just been nice to give them the type of home that they need with the lovely big enclosure,” Ms Walker, based in Ashbourne, told the PA news agency.

“It’s been really nice to get to know their individual personalities.

Polar Bears at Peak Wildlife ParkPolar bear Hope having a swim in her new habitat at Peak Wildlife Park (Jacob King/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jacob King

“The more they’re settling in, the more we’re getting to see the individual characteristics and behaviours they do that makes them unique.”

Ms Walker added that Hope, who was born in Antibes, France, is “quite cautious and protective” but is starting to appear more playful, while the cubs are beginning to “squabble over toys like kids” as they become comfortable in their new environment.

“The boys are definitely much more playful and usually, with a bit of encouragement, mum will join them as well,” she said.

She added that the keepers have been working “really hard” to keep the bears occupied as “they love to play with things and they’re really intelligent”.

Ms Walker explained that the park are proving the bears with an enrichment schedule, which involves giving them lots of different toys to play with.

“They absolutely love traffic cones, which is so bizarre, but they love them and love running around with them – they’ll play with them for hours,” she said.

Polar Bears at Peak Wildlife ParkHead keeper Yaz Walker said the bears like playing with traffic cones and will ‘play with them for hours’ (Jacob King/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jacob King

“We put them in and hide food in them, but they just like to play with them as they are, especially the young boys.

“They’ll spend hours just running around with them, jumping into the water and jumping on top of them.”

The three bears were transported in specially made boxes in climate-controlled lorries, with Ms Walker saying they were “a little bit nervous” when they first arrived.

However, after finding out the keepers at the park had “tasty treats” for them, they were “all friends straight away”.

Their new habitat, a fire-acre space designed specifically for the bears, features two enclosures with pools, one at six metres deep and the other at eight metres deep.

“They do spend quite a lot of time in the water, so we’ve put in lots of lovely trees for them, lots of landscaping, and lots of rockery so they can climb around on all different levels,” Ms Walker said.

Polar Bears at Peak Wildlife ParkThe three bears are now living in a five-acre habitat which has been made specifically for them (Jacob King/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jacob King

“They can get up high if they want to and have a nosy around, or they go somewhere if they want to be off-show, so they can go and have a little hide as well.

“But generally, they like playing in the water so we’ve tried to really make sure we’ve got a large area of water for them.”

Ms Walker estimates the boy cubs will be twice the size of their mother when they are fully grown, weighing between 600 and 650 kilograms.

“They’ll need lots of food,” she added.

The public will be able to view the polar bears at the park in August.

Ms Walker said: “The keepers have told us that the young boys are very, very interested in people.”

“When we’ve had people round there working, or had the staff come up to see them, they are quite nosy and they do like to watch what we’re doing.

“I’m hoping they’ll enjoy having some new faces to see.”

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