My visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) near Doncaster in Yorkshire

Oct 13th, 2017 | By | Category: Ralph's reports

13.10.2017 by Ralph

Friday 6 October 2017

Although there are many interesting animals in the YWP, I spent most of my time with the four Polar Bears as the YWP is the only place in England where I can visit them. The Park has excellent web and facebook pages where you can see professional photos of the animals.

I arrived slightly late at about 11 oclock in the morning, so the four bears were already in action. The weather stayed fine all day.

The big news was that the third enclosure is now in use. It has changed the routine of all the bears, though in different ways.

Another item of news was that the YWP had hosted a conference of Zoos with similar predator animals a few weeks ago, including from Scandinavia and Germany, the US and Canada. Munich was represented, so they will have been able to see for themselves how Nobby is doing. The Conference allowed good exchanges of ideas, especially on how to enrich the lives of the animals and use target training to look after their health.

My mobile phone camera is really not suitable for anything other than close up shots. Even then the light plays havoc with the automatic focus. This made it hard to photograph the bears, especially Nobby, who is usually roaming the perimeter of the enclosure backing on to the houses and fields nearby.

A great advantage for me is that there are plenty of benches to sit on and just enjoy the bears. It is also really easy to talk to the Rangers who look after them, as a Ranger is always on duty when the YWP is open.

Victor and Pixel were using the new enclosure when I arrived. They are especially fond of the reeds and bulrushes, which made them look as if they were eating bamboo.

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Victor has become even fonder of using the tunnel system to sit and wait for the other bears. However, his “cunning plan” has allowed Nissan and Nobby to choose an enclosure and then use it themselves without much fear of Victor sneaking up on them. Nobby still chooses to keep well clear of Victor, but Nissan has noticed that Pixel enjoys being with Victor and Nissan’s curiosity and sense of fun mean that he is sometimes coming quite close to them. Pixel is very tolerant of Victor’s need for company, though he is not afraid to stand up to him.

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Victor is over 500 Kilos and nearest the camera in the shots above. Pixel only weighs about 70 Kilos less.

Nissan is growing into a fine looking bear. Like all Russian bears he is going to be very big. He has discovered the new enclosure allows plenty of places to view visitors close up and also sit watching the various animals in the nearby South American walk through area. Here is Nissan enjoying his public.

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Here is Nissan in the main enclosure watching the Ranger unloading pieces of meat and foliage in the afternoon.

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He was joined by Nobby, who had been in the water and rolling around in the two older enclosures, largely undisturbed by the other bears, though occasionally Victor had walked through with Pixel. Nobby used the opportunity to change enclosures.

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Nobby and Nissan are in fact still more or less the same size. Nobby reminds me very much of Knut. I had a conversation once with Herr Roebcke where he pointed Knut out to me and said that he was growing “in der Laenge”, that he had a long back. Nobby is similar.

The Rangers notice that Nobby is the most determined of the bears and will stick at something for a long time.

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Nissan grabbed a big piece of meat and I was able to photograph him

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Nobby was much faster and had eaten his before Nissan. You can guess what happened next. Nobby decided to sneak up on Nissan and try and grab his meat. Nissan of course knows Nobby well, so that did not go well.

Nobby decided to go and relax.

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The Rangers keep the two pairs of bears separated in the evenings so that they can sleep outside in peace.

Pixel and Victor had polished of their meat and were now very interested in the foliage that he had been left by the entrance.

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Victor was the cleaner of the two and grabbed a big piece. Pixel was a bit more hesitant.

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Pixel has really improved Victor’s mood. Victor seems to need companionship and at the end of the day he and Pixel were stretched out together. They looked so cute. But I only managed these shots.

Victor used the foliage to oil his fur, something which Zoo Polar Bears really enjoy in the absence of snow.

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Victor is easily identifiable by his “teddy” ears and rolling walk

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At 5 oclock both pairs of bears were settled in their outside enclosures and it was time for me to go to the shop and buy some bear stuff, before meeting my taxi and catching the train back to Oxford.

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As the poster says, I shall be diving in to Doncaster again as soon as I can.

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  1. Dear Ralph,

    I’m sure the representatives from Munich were delighted to see Nobby doing so fine in Doncaster. Of course, everybody was happy to see all the polar bear boys!

    It was very interesting to read about the bears’ different ‘strategies’ sharing the enclosures. Nobby is a very intelligent guy who knows how to avoid ‘mishaps’ with Victor. He also has a lot of ‘sisu’ – just like his mother Giovanna.

    Again I had to laugh at Nobby’s ‘dinner manners’. He eats his own meat very quickly and after that he goes after the others’ food. I wonder when they learn to hide their food from Nobby … 🙂

    It’s good that Victor has Pixel as company. Obviously he wants to have somebear to ‘talk to’.

    Nissan seems to be the one who’s most curious about the visitors. It must have been great to see him so close. What a beautiful face he has!

    Thank you so much for this informative and very entertaining report! Your photos give us a good idea of the sizes of ‘your boys’.

    Hugs from Mervi

  2. Dear Ralph,
    thank you for the interesting report about the four bears. With the opening of the 3rd enclosure they got more place to live. I am curious wherther the YWP will take more bears or not.

  3. Lieber Ralph,

    deine Fotos sind zwar etwas verwischt, dafür sind deine Beschreibungen um so deutlicher und sehr anschaulich!
    Ich freue mich für dich, dass du in diesem wunderbar großzügigen Bärengehege deine Lieblinge
    in aller Ruhe beobachten kannst und auch netten Kontakt zu den Pflegern hast.
    Es ist toll, dass diese Boygroup so friedlich miteinander lebt und die Jungbären ihre Rangordnung
    kennenlernen, ohne dass es deswegen ernsthafte Kämpfe gibt.

    Herzlichen Dank für deinen tollen Bericht und liebe Grüße!

  4. Nachtrag:
    Der internationale Austausch über diese Art der Bärenhaltung ist natürlich ganz großartig und findet hoffentlich in vielen anderen Ländern Nachahmer.

  5. Thank you very much dear Ralph.
    Best wishes to Victor, Pixel, Nobby and Nissan.

  6. Lieber Ralph,

    schön, dass Du wieder die Männer-WG im Yorkshire Wildlife Park besucht hast.
    Aus den Kommentaren kann ich erkennen, dass es den Bären gut geht und sie sich immer noch prächtig verstehen.

    Ich schaffe es zurzeit leider zeitlich nicht, den gesamten Text mit dem Translater zu übersetzen, zumal die Übersetzung nicht wirklich gut ist.

    Liebe Grüße nach Oxford.

  7. Dear Ralph

    Thank you for the interesting
    and well illustrated report. The
    bears look very good & activ.

    Chris 🙂

  8. Dear Ralph!
    I´m happy for you that you could visit YWP again and did see the polar bears in good shape.
    It must have been a relief that they were still on good terms. The opening of the third enclosure obviously helped in this regard.
    How nice of the YWP to put some benches near the enclosures for the weary visitors…

    Hopefully the conference of zoos from different countries in YWP will enable to ease and enrich the life of much more polar bears in zoos in the near future!

    Your report is lively, interesting and empathetic and your pics are quite special again. I like them because they show the main things and underline your words.
    Some of them in a frame could be even considered as pieces of art…!


  9. Dear RALPH – Don’t you worry because of the quality of your mobile phone made pics. Most important are your always interesting and fun to read reports. So it’s sufficient and appreciated if your pics underline what you did say before. . . . It was also interesting to get to know about the conference between various zoos in your home zoo, ‘The YORKSHIRE WILDLIFE PARK’ in Doncester.

    Thank you very much.

  10. I am grateful to Mervi for publishing
    my report, and to everyone for being
    so kind in their comments.
    YWP will only receive or send bears when
    the Registry in Holland ask them to
    do so. The purpose of the Project Polar
    is to help other Zoos and not poach animals
    from them.

  11. dear Ralph
    thank you so much for your interesting report and for all the pictures from Doncaster.You discribed all so well.
    I am glad Nobby has his good friend Nissan. Victor is very big but also he needs a friend and Pixel likes to stay with him. So good, that the bears have much place. Were you alone without Katited or BN
    It was a pleasure to read and watch the up date from the Wildlife Park
    dear greetings to you and big paw waves to all the bears at home

  12. Katited and BN were with me but they
    did not take any pictures this time as
    they were so excited to run around spotting
    which bear was in which enclosure.

  13. Lieber Ralph,
    wieder ein herzerfrischender Bericht aus dem YWP.
    Froh bin ich daß Nobby sich mit Nissan gut versteht und weiss dass er bei Viktor vorsichtig sein muß.
    Ist nicht leicht eine reine Bullentruppe zu vergesellschaften vorallem wenn ein älterer Eisbärenmann dabei ist.
    Für Viktor ist es nach dem kleinen Gehege in Rhenen der perfekte Altersruhesitz und einen Kumpel hat er auch mit Pixel.
    Vielen Dank, hat Freude gemacht deinen Bericht anzusehen.
    Liebe Grüße Moni K

  14. thank you Ralph for your answer
    I am glad Katited and BN had also a good and interesting time in this wonderful Park

  15. Lieber Ralph

    Schön, dass Du die Jungs und ihren Chef Viktor besucht hast.

    Ich kann mich noch gut erinnern: Nobby konnte sich Ewigkeiten mit ein und der selben Sache beschäftigen. Das hat er von Mama Giovanna gelernt. Seine Schwester Nela konnte das nicht.

    Danke für die vielen interessanten Informationen und die Bilder.

    Natürlich musst Du bald wieder nach Doncaster 🙂
    Liebe Grüße aus München