|Mother Victoria and her son Hamish|
Young Hamish, just five months old and the first polar bear cub to be born in the U.K. in 25 years, is quite the sensation at the Highland Wildlife Park.
|Hamish concentrates on a piece of something interesting|
The young cub is starting to be a little more independent of his mom Victoria.
|Hamish loves the water,|
and spends much time splashing about
Their enclosure in the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland is huge and rambling, and Victoria now allows Hamish to play on his own, sometimes at quite a distance. She does keep an eye on him, however, and he runs to her to reconnect regularly.
|Hamish in the wilderness|
Highland Wildlife Park is a 260 acre safari park located within the Cairngorms National Park. It was opened in 1972 mostly with animals native to the Highlands. It now features species from tundra and mountainous habitats around the world, suited to the climate and terrain of the Scottish Highlands. Here the animals have spacious natural habitats in which to roam and play.
|Walker, left and Arktos, right, with their muddy boots|
Arktos was born in Vienna in 2007. His twin brother Nanuq lives in Hannover. Since his father is the late Eric, Arktos is the half brother of Felix, who is the father of Victoria's first cub Milak. The mother of Arktos, Olinka, is the daughter of American born Omaha, so Hamish is the great great grandson of Olaf and Olga of the Henry Doorly Zoo, and is related to many of our American zoo polar bears.
|Hamish and Victoria in their large pool|
|Hamish run to the fence|
|Hamish often follows his mother around, but is becoming more independent|
|Hamish gives his mom a hug|
The enclosures at the HWP are spacious and wild, with the park devoting 10 acres to the two polar bear homes. The space for the males is quite far from Victoria's custom built area, so there isn't the distraction for the males during breeding season, and Victoria feels quite comfortable and safe with her little son.
|Hamish half in and half out of the water|
|Snack time comes often for Hamish.|
He still plays with his food as a toy, rather than eating it.
|Victoria is a proud mother|
|The holding pen at the top of the hill|
|Victoria in Aalborg with daughter Milak|
|Victoria in Scotland|
In Scotland, she was very much alone for the months leading up to the birth, and after. When Victoria gave birth to Hamish in Scotland, she had already knocked out the battery operated camera, so there was only audio for the keepers to tell she had a cub. They aren't even sure of the actual birthday. She remained in the den for months, totally undisturbed, far away from civilization.
|In the pool|
|Shake, shake, shake|
|As with all babies, Hamish uses his mouth to explore and interact|
|Kisses for mom, or bites?|
|An egg cardboard is smeared with strawberry jam to make a delicious toy|
|A few weeks ago, Hamish loved to climb inside the black tubes. |
Now he is too big.
|Hamish has found new ways to play with the black tube.|
|He will tip the tube and toss it into the water|
|Hamish loves cardboard boxes.|
|The Scottish Highlands. This is the view from Victoria's home.|
In the early weeks after Hamish made his public appearance, Victoria hovered over him. She wouldn't let him go into the pool until she knew he was ready to swim safely. Once she showed him how to swim, he didn't want to leave, and spent all his time in the pool for the next few weeks.
|Hamish amuses himself.|
|Watching the keepers. The bears are always alert.|
Highland Wildlife Park is ideally situated to provide the polar bears with a suitable climate, lots of snow and cold and wind in the winter, and cooler breezy summers on the Tundra, very similar to what they would experience in Canada. Here she has grass, moss and heather to roll in, and trees to rub against to scratch. She is one happy bear.
|Playing with Mum.|
|Water play is the best.|
|"Mom, what's in your mouth?"|
In this video, at the end, you can see the size of the habitat. Click on the link to see:
Hamish and his home
|Hamish has found a bit of fish, and plays with it as a toy.|
|Still playing with the fish.|
|And now playing with the blue tube.|
|Ready to pounce. Play is practice for the real world.|
|Nothing is more fun than a box.|
|Hey, that's my box!|
|Hamish and the egg crate.|
|Another fun toy, a part of a tree!|