Hamish and Victoria in Highland Wildlife Park, May 2018

Jun 6th, 2018 | By | Category: Ralph's reports

6.6.2018 – Pictures by Molly Merrow, text by Ralph

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Hamish at five months is a self-confident little bear, who is very curious about everything that goes on inside his large enclosure.

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Victoria and Hamish know that the keepers at HWP always have something interesting for them. Molly has mentioned that Victoria established a close bond with her keepers in Aalborg Zoo. The HWP keepers are just as fond of her and have given her the nickname “ Breakfast?” after the her favourite meal and the fact that she is always hungry.

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Hamish is at the stage where all food is treated as a toy and investigated thoroughly. He has already started to eat solid food, but the regular visits to Victoria for a power milk drink will go on for some months.

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Victoria already has competition from Hamish when it comes to snacks thrown into their enclosure. Molly’s picture offers proof that Polar Bears can chow down on lettuce.

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Victoria is a fine looking bear and Hamish is already, five months in, showing that he will be a big male. Another item of solid food is being tasted.

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Victoria is a strict and experienced mother. Hamish knows that when she moves in the big enclosure it is a good idea to follow her.

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Victoria is always on the alert for something interesting ie food. Hamish has learnt to watch carefully as well.

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Victoria spent a lot of time investigating something hidden under the water. As the staff at HWP told us, it was almost certainly an old piece of food. Hamish is a quick study and has learned that if Mum is looking for something it is worth being around.

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Victoria is an experienced mother and happy to let Hamish do his own thing. Molly’s shot shows him investigating his world. HWP have given him a whole real tundra landscape to explore.

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Victoria spent a lot of time at this part of the pool trying to extract an old item of food, Hamish decided that he would give it his best shot.

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Victoria is never far away from her boy. Hamish is investigating something on the shore, but he knows that at any minute Victoria can walk away fast, and he will follow.

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If proof were needed that Hamish will be a big male Polar Bear very soon, this tree and its branches were up for the Polar Bear treatment. First, try to eat it. Second, try to destroy it, so that you can eat it. If you cannot destroy it, hide it so that no one else can have it. Victoria watches him closely.

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As Molly wrote in her blog, Hamish had been small enough to climb inside this tube. No more, but it is still interesting for him. Victoria seems pleased with her young student. In the wild she would be teaching him to hunt seals. Well, getting rid of some waste plastic will do for now.

Victoria is so relaxed that she is able to let Hamish have some fun with the plastic tube.

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Hamish has no problem with being in the water. Blue plastic may be an environmental disaster, but Polar Bears know what to do with any bits that turn up in HWP.

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Playing with tubes and canisters is all very well, but nothing compares with the lessons from Mother Victoria in Polar Bear play in the water. One day Hamish will have to hold his own against other male bears, or better still impress his first female Polar Bear.

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No object that arrives in the enclosure is left uninspected. Polar Bears depend on their curiosity to survive in the wild, Victoria and Hamish are given every opportunity in HWP to practise this skill.

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In the deserts of the Arctic Polar Bears get their fluid from seals, but during the Summer months they have to drink. Hamish quenches his thirst, with Victoria close by.

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This picture shows a proud mother and a healthy five month old club. Much as I respect Bill Travers and the work of Born Free, would he really deny Victoria and Hamish this opportunity to show why life is so important for all of us.

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A mother and son, who deserve the wonderful place that HWP have provided for them. I am sure that HWP will do their best to give Hamish a good home, after all Doncaster is not far away as the Polar Bear walks!

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Victoria and Hamish are enjoying the best enclosure for a captive Polar Bear anywhere in the world. Unlike their wild relatives they do not face the dangers of the ice and are looked after by some of the kindest and best trained people I have met.

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Molly wondered whether Victoria missed the people she used to see daily in Aalborg. I can only go from the three days I spent in Kingussie, but I would say that each day a whole team of really good people are keeping her company.

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As an Englishman I can only take my hat off to Scotland for having the courage and imagination to make this home for Polar Bears in the magical country of the Highlands. At wee Hamish is no longer so wee.

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This wonderful image of Hamish sold as a card in the shop.

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  1. Dear Ralph,

    What a delightful report!

    I enjoyed every word!

    And thank you, Molly for the great photos!

    xo k-j

  2. Dear Ralph,

    Victoria and Hamish certainly live in a paradise! So much space and lots of enrichment and, of course, loving keepers doing everything to keep their bears happy.

    Hamish seems to be a curious little boy although he knows it’s best to stay close to mama.

    Oh bear, Hamish even eats lettuce! That reminded me of Knuti who always returned the green stuff to sender. 🙂

    I feel great sympathy with ‘Mrs Breakfast’ – I’m always hungry, too!!! 🙂

    Victoria is an experienced mama bear and knows how to raise a cubbie. She lets Hamish explore the enclosure and have fun with the toys but she also knows she has to put limits when the kid gets too wild and excited.

    I enjoyed every word in your report!

    Dear Molly,

    Thank you so much for ‘donating’ all these fantastic photos to Ralph’s report. A real scoop for Knuti’s Weekly! When two polar bear lovers cooperate the result is wonderful!

    Bear hugs to you both from Mervi

  3. Lieber Ralph,

    deinen Bericht zu lesen macht großes Vergnügen und liest sich wie das Tagebuch eines
    kleinen Bärchens, der an der Seite seiner Mama die Welt entdeckt.
    Das Gelände ist wild und natürlich und wenn man keine Zäune sehen würde,
    könnte man meinen, die beiden streifen durch die Wildnis.

    Vielen Dank für deine ausführlichen Beschreibungen mit den tollen
    Fotos von Molly Merrow !


  4. Wonderful cooperation between the both of you, dear RALPH, dear MOLLY!
    Once more I would like to mention the book I cited already several times in the ‘KNUTITOURS’ world’:
    this time as suggestion for a comon book of the both of you together, sometimes in the future:
    “Meine Worte – Deine Bilder” or the other way round: “Meine Bilder – Deine Worte” 🙂

    That’s even for not so polar bear addicted ones than we are an interesting ‘pictured article’ about the behaviour of ‘polar bears in general’ and ‘polar bears in captivity compared to those in the wild’:
    in any case polar bear mothers’ lessons are helpful for the further life of any of their cubs!

    Perfect description ‘the Polar Bear treatment’ (and behaviour):

    First, try to eat it.
    Second, try to destroy it, so that you can eat it.
    If you cannot destroy it, hide it so that no one else can have it.

    [ This reminds me somehow the ‘Rheinische Grundgesetzt’ 😉
    – even though it’s something completely different 😉 ]

    Highland Wildlife Park (HWP) can be proud of this article that’s kind of FREE ADVERTISEMENT
    and an AWARD to them, as well as good education to anyone interested in polar bears
    – everything at once!

    – – –
    Thanks that you even made me even learn a new English word I didn’t hear/know until now:
    wee = tiny = winzig, klein, lütt . . .

  5. Dear Ralph!
    Thank you for your interesting observations. Victoria is a nice mother. Hamish is a playful kid. They both have a huge enclosure.
    Dear Molly!
    Thank you for the wonderful pictures.

  6. Dear Ralph and Dear Molly, I really appreciate your cooperation for bringing this wonderful report. One thing is very clear: an enclosure for polar bears is allowed to look a bit “wild”. As long as these giants have what they really need, there is no need for fancy things to please and ease the visitors. Mother and son are doing lovely and have sufficient entertainment to keep them busy. I forgot to mention it in the first part of the reports: when these polar bears can see the landscape (and most probably, they can), it will give them a very comfortable feeling for being “free” in one way or another.
    Victoria is a lovely mother and Hamish a sweet little boy and their interaction shows a lot of love.

  7. Dear Ralph & Molly

    Thank you for the interesting report
    and the excellent photos. Hamish is
    a lovely little bear and his mother
    Victoria can be proud of her son.

    Chris 🙂

  8. Dear Ralph, dear Molly!
    Thank you for this informative and entertaining report of your visit in the Highland Wildlife Park.
    You must have been vey busy and were quite a good team! The descriptions are detailed and colourful and the pics simply great!

    Hamish is a cute and droll little guy and a keen pupil of his mother, who teaches him all he needs for his well being in his after-life.
    The photos on which he is following every one of his mother´s steps are so touching.
    I´m happy for him that Victoria can raise him in these perfect surroundings and there´s no lack of toys either.

    I loved the Hamish card at the end!


  9. Dear Ralph and Molly,

    Thank you for this interesting article and the wonderful pictures!

    Hamish and Victoria enjoy their life in the large enclosure.
    Hamish is a curious little bear, Victoria is his caring mother…


  10. Dear Ralph, dear Molly!

    So fantastich report and sooooooooooooooooooooooo nice Photos.
    Hamish is a wonderful babybear and his mother an elegant motherbear.

    Thank you so much


  11. Liebe Molly und lieber Ralph,
    ich bin begeistert von den Bildern und Ralph erklärt alles wunderbar.
    In den schottischen Highlands Eisbären zu halten war eine sehr gute Idee und der Zuchterfolg ist die
    Hamish ist auch endlich einmal ein Name der im Gedächtsnis bleibt und der kleine Schotte macht allen Freude.
    Viktoria ist eine erfahrene Mutter und ihr Spitzname “Breakfast” ist eine liebevolle Bezeichnung für ihren Appetit.
    Herzlichen Dank, für eure gelungene Gemeinschaftsproduktion, das macht Lust auf mehr!
    Liebe Grüße Moni K

  12. Dear Molly and dear Ralph

    A beautiful community production :-))
    Thank you so much for this adorable report!!


  13. Lieber Ralph, liebe Molly,

    das nenne ich perfektes Teamwork. Das habt Ihr klasse gemacht.
    Ralph hat alles wunderbar beschrieben, und Molly hat wunderschöne Fotos gemacht.
    Und natürlich Mervi, die alles editiert hat, damit wir uns auch daran erfreuen können.

    Victoria und Hamish sind schon ein tolles Team. Der kleine Mann erkundet die Welt, und Mama paßt gut auf ihn auf. Und im Wasser sind sie wohl Beide ganz gerne.
    Bei dem Kosenamen “Frühstück” musste ich schmunzeln.
    Danke für die News aus dem Highland Wildlife Park.

    Liebe Grüße

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