Meet Yupi the polar bear, which Yorkshire Wildlife Park is hoping to rescue from a miserable life in Mexico.
The 22-year-old has spent almost all her life in a grim, concrete enclosure in soaring temperatures – and now the Doncaster-based park wants to give her the chance to chill out.
If the offer of rehoming Yupi is successful, she will be the first polar bear to live in England in more than 20 years.
Cheryl Williams from the wildlife park said: “Polar bears are basically storage heaters. Under that white fur is black skin which retains heat and a layer of blubber to keep it all in.
“On top of that she is an intelligent predator who would naturally be coming up with hunting strategies and solving problems.
“She’s not designed to just sit there all day doing nothing.”
Yupi has lived in Morelia Zoo since 1992, after being captured in the wild in Alaska as a cub. It is possible her mother was shot by hunters or a resident who thought she was getting too close.
Yupi’s concrete enclosure has little shade, a pool which is not kept cool, and little stimulation. Temperatures can reach 35C, leaving her in danger of overheating.
Now YWP aims to raise £150,000 towards the cost of creating a new reserve – which is already under construction – for polar bears in need of rescuing.
The £750,000 project is set to span 15 acres with hills, lakes and Arctic plains and is set to be completed early next year.
John Minion, the park’s CEO, said: “She’s spent 20 years in a barren, hot environment and she will have a range of mental issues.
“At 22 she’s quite old for a bear and probably won’t live past 30. But there’s no reason why she should spend another minute in that zoo in Mexico.
“We’re going to give her the most naturalistic experience we can, with caves to hide in, plants, a deep, cold lake, and the opportunity to interact with up to eight other rescued bears, if they all get on.”
A keeper at the park will also make sure Yupi is properly stimulated, with activities from scent-marking to hunting games.
A formal request has been made to Mexico’s Morelia Zoo for it to let Yupi go.
A day in the life - Miserable veteran is kept in bunker for 17 hours a day
Yupi lives in an old grizzly bear pen.
For about seven hours a day she is put in her enclosure, where zoo visitors watch her pacing up and down or swimming in her pool, which is chlorinated and not kept cool.
For the remaining 17 hours of the day, Yupi is confined to her holding area, which is a dank, barren, concrete bunker.
Campaign group Zoocheck is fighting for her to be rehomed.
A spokesman said: “While the zoo would be expected to fight against Yupi’s relocation, it is possible that they would eventually see the move as being in their best interest. It would help establish the Morelia Zoo as an ethical facility and a leader among Mexican zoos.”