The award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park welcomes a new arrival to Project Polar!

The nation’s favourite polar bears has welcomed a new addition to the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park. 

Rasputin arrived last week and is the 5th Polar bear to arrive at Yorkshire Wildlife Park – which is the polar bear capital of the UK with its stunning Project Polar reserves, home to the only Polar Bears in England.

Rasputin was recommended to move to Yorkshire as the best home for him by the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). He is fully grown at 12 years old and weighs in at around 500kg. 

He was born in Moscow Zoo on the 19th November 2008. His mother still lives there at the grand age of 29 years old. He has lived in Antibes in France since 2010 and is the father of four cubs. 

His move was arranged as his mate Flocke had recently had cubs and needed to be kept separate from him while the cubs are small for their safety. 

Rasputin’s keeper Bruce Walton, who has been with Rasputin since he first came to the park in France, travelled over to the UK to settle Rasputin in.

It was important to carry out the move while the weather was cold to ensure that Rasputin was as comfortable as possible during the journey as it can get extremely hot in the South of France.

Rasputin’s keeper in France, Bruce Walton, said; “he is a lovely bear and I can see he will be very happy here and have a ball.”

Organising the polar bear move has been months in the planning. His move was facilitated by an experienced team of vets and transport specialists. 

The journey was over 1,000 miles by road and ferry, with the added threat of delays due to heavy pre Brexit traffic at Calais.

The team at Marineland organised their part of the move and he was loaded into his crate and onto the lorry setting off on Tuesday 28th January

They arrived in the UK the next day, the Wednesday, where they set off on the last leg of the journey to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster.

Rasputin will be kept initially in a separate reserve with his own lake for the first 4 months that he is at the Park 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, the expansive 10 acres of networked reserves and lakes. The largest lake is 7.5m deep so the bears can dive and play in the cold depths.

Polar bears are highly intelligent and require a lot of space and also a complex environment to challenge their curiosity. They are the largest land carnivore and listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. 

The biggest threat to the bears in the wild is the loss of sea ice through global warming which reduces the amount of time that they can spend out on the sea ice feeding. 

“Rasputin’s arrival is very exciting and I am sure he is going to settle in very well ,” said said Dr. Matt Hartley, Head of Animals at the park. “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.

He added “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.”

Rasputin has been setting into his new home since his arrival on Wednesday 29th January.

A few days later he made his official YWP public debut where he began enchanting members of the public and will continue to do so for years to come.