On Monday April 9, a key phase in the introduction of Walker the polar bear and his new male companion Arktos at the Highland Wildlife Park in Inverness-shire will occur. This is not the first time we have had them together as it is important that we approach this complex process gradually and with as little distraction as possible.
Arktos arrived from Hannover Zoo in Germany on the April 4 as companion to the Park’s well-loved resident polar bear Walker. A year older than Walker and slightly larger, Arktos is four years old and Walker turned three in December last year, it’s hoped that the bears will establish a relationship of friendly competitiveness, which is what we would expect from sub-adult male polar bears.
After a short settling in period that saw Arktos housed next to Walker’s enclosure, keepers are now ready for the pair to spend increasing amounts of time together in the main polar bear enclosure. Both boys have been allowed to catch the scent of each other, Arktos is getting familiar with all areas of the facility, and expectations are high that they will get on as young male polar bears tend to respond well to each other.
The ‘polar pals’ will share a five acre bachelor pad, complete with a pond big enough for two and enough space for morning runs and afternoon wrestles.
Douglas Richardson, Animal Collection Manager at the Highland Wildlife Park, said: “We’re delighted to have a second male polar bear join us in the Highlands. Great company for Walker, Arktos will provide companionship, greater enrichment and stimulation – which will enhance Walker’s suitably complex lifestyle.
“The initial signs are good that both youngsters will get on well together, judging by their first encounters. Immature males do tend to react well to each other when they meet, but it will be a gradual series of introductions before Arktos moves in totally with Walker.
“Walker is a great bear who is full of fun and character, and it seems that Arktos is exactly the same. It will be great to see the pair interact with each other and observe how their companionship develops over time. Introducing two 400 kg carnivores is of course a tad nerve-wracking, but so far it has all been rough play that would make a professional heavy-weight wrestler proud”.