England’s only polar bear enclosure has welcomed new resident Rasputin after Yorkshire Wildlife Park was recommended by a European breeding programme.
Rasputin arrived at the park in Doncaster last week after making a 1,000-mile (1,609km) journey from the south of France.
The 12-year-old polar bear recently became a father to three cubs at his home in Antibes but needed to be separated from them for their safety.
Rasputin is the fifth polar bear to arrive at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park – which was recommended as the best home for him by the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and has become known as the polar bear capital of the UK.
The 1,102lb (500kg) bear was born at Moscow Zoo in 2008 and has lived at Marineland in France since 2010.
His move, which was months in the planning and overseen by an experienced team of vets and transport specialists, took two days and had to be carried out while the weather was cold.
Rasputin arrived in Doncaster on January 29 and will now spend four months in quarantine before being moved to join Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby in Project Polar – the 10-acre enclosure of reserves and lakes up to 25ft (7.5m) deep.
Bruce Walton, Rasputin’s keeper in France, said: “He is a lovely bear and I can see he will be very happy here and have a ball.”
Matt Hartley, head of animals at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, said: “Rasputin’s arrival is very exciting and I am sure he is going to settle in very well.
“We were pleased when we found out the park was recommended by the EEP as Rasputin’s new home.”
Dr Hartley added: “We are committed to our conservation work at the park and, through the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation working together with Polar Bears International, believe that he will be another great polar bear ambassador.
“He will help us move forward in our fight to ensure polar bears can ultimately survive the damage climate change is causing to their environment.”
Polar bears are the largest land carnivore and are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conversation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
The loss of sea ice through global warming, which reduces the amount of time they can spend feeding, is the biggest threat to polar bears in the wild.