Following the rescue of the Ussuri Brown Bears, we will be visiting Yorkshire Great Park on 20th September 2018 to meet Riku, Kai, Hanako and Amu.
In July 2018, these four endangered brown bears were brought from Japan to a new life in Yorkshire Great Park following a precisely planned 5,000-mile transport operation. Riku, Kai, Hanako and Amu were living in outdated cages at the Ainu Cultural Museum, on the island of Hokkaido.
The bears urgently needed new facilities
It was clear that there was no capacity in Japanese zoos to take the bears. The team at Yorkshire Great Park put together a detailed operation over two months to ensure a safe 5,400-mile journey to the UK.
YWP animal manager Debbie Porter said: “The loading went like clockwork.” Ms Porter said: “The 27-year-old female Hanako was very playful when we were loading her – at one point she tried to grab a hosepipe, she was very curious about what was going on.
The bears were taken to the airport in an air-conditioned lorry provided by DHL Japan.
They were flown to Tokyo, then to London, before they were driven toYorkshire Great Parkwhere and released into their new home. Ms Porter said: “I actually took a photo of the empty cages because you think for 27 years they have been in that tiny caging. “It was a very emotional day. ” The team said that Hanako was the first to leave her crate and the two younger males – Kai and Riku – were next.
John Minion, CEO of the park at Branton, near Doncaster, said: “We are fortunate we have the space, animal management skills and experience to rehome these bears that will require specialist care and it is great to welcome them to Yorkshire. “We are grateful to the Ainu Museum for releasing the bears to us where we will be able to give them a secure future.”
Sadly the eldest of the four endangered bears has had to be put to sleep.
Vets examining Amu, the eldest animal, found chronic degenerative diseases which were “worse than first thought”. Yorkshire Wildlife Park, which took the bears in earlier this month, said it was a “deeply difficult decision”.
The park team, near Doncaster, advised that the remaining three bears – two aged 17 and one aged 27 – “are in good health and thriving in their new surroundings”. In a statement the park team said: “We regret to announce the death of Amu, the oldest of the rescued Japanese bears.”
The Ussuri Brown Bears are also known as the Black Grizzly and can weigh up to 550kg and live up to 35 years.
Just 10,000 left in Japan
Ussuri brown bears‘ omnivore diet consists of plants, seeds, nuts, fruits, invertebrates, eggs, fish and small or larger mammals. The bears are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to vulnerability to habitat loss, illegal hunting and capture, and being poached for body parts and skins.
The bears are extinct across parts of Asia and there are thought to be 10,000 left in Japan.
Can you help?
In order to help kit out the brown bears’ reserve, Yorkshire Wildlife Park are asking companies or tradespeople to donate the following enrichment and platform materials.
- 20 metres of metal chain link
- 20-30 Nr D screw links
- Plastic barrels
- Bark chipping
- Pea shingle
- Trees and shrubs
- Berry seeds
- Wildflower seeds
- Large logs
- Boulders/ large stone
- Shelter huts
- Thick ropes
- Bungee cords >150mm diameter
- Varying sizes of boomer balls
- Brush heads
- Hollow bamboo of varying widths
- Hessian sacks
- Recycled plainings
- Water butt
If you can help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll keep you posted with photos and news of our visit.