Polar bear born in the UK for first time in 25 years
Staff at Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie are thrilled with the addition.
A polar bear cub has been born in the UK for the first time in 25 years.
Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig near Kinguissie, confirmed their polar bear Victoria had given birth.
Staff described the birth as an outstanding achievement for the bear, stressing the first three months are perilous for polar bear cubs, whether wild or captive born.
Una Richardson, the park's head keeper responsible for carnivores, said: "We first heard promising noises in the week before Christmas and these have now continued into the new year.
"Because we don't have sight inside her cubbing box we can't be sure if Victoria has had more than one cub but we can confirm the birth.
"While we are absolutely thrilled, we are not celebrating prematurely as polar bear cubs have a high mortality rate in the first weeks of life due to their undeveloped immune system and the mother's exaggerated need for privacy, with any disturbance risking the cub being killed or abandoned."
'We first heard promising noises in the week before Christmas and these have now continued into the new year.'Una Richardson, head keeper for carnivores
She added: "We will continue to monitor Victoria and very much hope for the best possible news when she emerges around March.
"Until then, Victoria's enclosure will be closed to the public and keeper activity will be at a minimum to give her offspring every chance of survival."
Newborn polar bear cubs are blind, around 30cm long and weigh little more than a guinea pig.
They only open their eyes when they are a month old and are entirely dependent on their mother, feeding on fat-rich milk to grow quickly, weighing around ten to 12kg by the time they leave their den.
Douglas Richardson, head of Living Collections at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, said: "The arrival of a polar bear cub is a tremendous husbandry accomplishment for our team."