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Scotland's only polar bear cub celebrates first birthday

Hamish, who lives at the Highland Wildlife Park, was the first born in the UK in 25 years.

The first polar bear cub to be born in the UK in 25 years has turned one.

Hamish, who lives at the Highland Wildlife Park, celebrated his first birthday with his mother Victoria on Tuesday.

Anyone who shares the cub's name or birthday is being given free entry today and may catch a glimpse of Hamish being treated to a unique birthday cake with treats and presents from keepers.

Una Richardson, head carnivore keeper at the park, said: "It has been an incredible year and we're really excited to be celebrating Hamish's first birthday

Birthday bear: Hamish has turned one.
Birthday bear: Hamish has turned one. Highland Wildlife Park

"Our mischievous cub has grown so much since he took his first steps outside in March and is rapidly catching up to his mum, Victoria, although he still has some way to go until he reaches his full adult size."

Barbara Smith, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, added: "Hamish's arrival has helped us to highlight the threats that many wild animals are facing and the small changes we can make to really make a big difference.

"As a wildlife conservation charity, we believe we have a duty to help protect this magnificent species which is predicted to significantly reduce in numbers over the next 40 years as the reduction in sea ice, the polar bear's primary seal hunting platform, continues."

"Our polar bears are part of the European Endangered Species Programme and we hope when Hamish is older, he will help to reinforce the captive population, which may be needed in the future to help support and restore a markedly reduced and fragmented wild population."

Staff at the wildlife park marked the occasion by posting a video tribute on Facebook and wrote: "Happy Birthday Hamish!

"The first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years turns one today.

"Just look how much he's grown since he first emerged from the den in March!"

Proud parents: Polar bears Arktos and Victoria.
Proud parents: Polar bears Arktos and Victoria. Highland Wildlife Park

The bear was born at the enclosure, near Kingussie, a week before Christmas during 2017.

Hamish's mother Victoria is also special to the park as she is the only female polar bear in Scotland.

His father, Arktos, is kept in an area in a different part of the park along with another adult male polar bear.

Since Hamish took his first steps outside in March, more than 200,000 people have come through the doors of the park - almost doubling previous records.

https://stv.tv/news/north/1413484-first-uk-polar-bear-cub-in-25-years-named-after-vote/ | default

In April, his name was announced after it was picked by the public in an online poll.

MacKinnon, Poulsen and Artor were also in the running, but Hamish emerged the overwhelming favourite, with more than 21,000 votes.

Anyone who shares the cub's name or birthday is being given free entry to the park on Tuesday.

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