England’s only giant polar bear is today showing off his palatial new pad to the paying public – at a South Yorkshire wildlife park.
Victor, a 15-year-old bear who weighs 480 kilos, arrived at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster from his former home in Rhenen Zoo, Holland.
And after a weekend to settle into his new surroundings, Victor and his home were open to the public from midday yesterday.
Victor is the first arrival to the Project Polar sanctuary with two more expected to follow later this year.
The aim is to rescue bears from unsuitable environments or take retired bears from breeding programmes and rehome them.
The new enclosure is the largest in the world and can house up to of 10 bears.
Victor was part of the European breeding programme before retiring.
The reserves of Project Polar span 10 acres – about eight-and-a-half football pitches – and are divided into landscaped hills, valleys, and lakes with water eight metres deep.
The reserve reflects the Arctic summer habitat and provides a complex and stimulating environment.
Park director John Minion said: “Victor has made a great contribution to the European breeding programme, and his genes are very well represented now, so the decision was made to retire him to Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
“But that doesn’t stop Victor from being an ambassador for the Arctic. Polar bears are an iconic species increasingly threatened in their native habitat and we need to fight their cause.”