At last I get back to Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Oct 3rd, 2021 | By | Category: Ralph's reports

3.10.2021 by Ralph Morton

After much looking at how best to visit the Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) I set off from home in the evening of Sunday 12 September. The first leg of my journey was to travel to London on the Oxford Tube bus. At Victoria Coach Station I had a ticket for the National Express coach to Sheffield. It left just after Midnight.

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The coach travelled through the night and I managed to get some sleep, though I was thinking of Polar Bears and not very tired.

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In Sheffield and Doncaster the bus station is called the Interchange because it is near the rail station. By using the coach I had avoided the often delayed train service and saved a considerable amount of money. But the journey to Doncaster did use a local train.

Once in Doncaster I had a bit of time to kill so I used it to ride the 57 bus to YWP. There are two services (A and C) going in a loop via the local Robin Hood airport. I found the stop near the Hurst Road roundabout. Then a brief mug of tea and a big soft breadroll filled with bacon back in central Doncaster before going back to YWP.

Most people visit YWP by car so there is a new enormous car park before you get to the park itself. The new entrance has a series of buildings called the Hive. A hotel for visitors to the park is being built (sadly no underwater Polar Bear views). The park has been doubled in size since I visited last year.

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Everything to the right of the blue line that runs down the middle of the map is new.

As you can imagine as soon as the park opened I hurried to Flocke’s enclosure (Project Polar 2 at the bottom of the map just to the left of the blue line- which is part of the ample wetlands). There is now a lot of walking to do at YWP but being surrounded by countryside, lots of lovely water features, and fresh air plus the boost from my bacon roll I soon found myself at Flocke’s enclosure.

The enclosure was originally designed to rescue a Polar Bear from Mexico. It then provided a home for brown bears from Japan and last year to Raspi. You can see from the pictures that it has a lot of space and a lake. There are also plenty of things to keep bears entertained and busy.

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I had last seen Flocke and her family at Marineland in August in the deep plunge pools and bright sunshine of Antibes. Autumn in England is warmer this year but the typical countryside (complete with electricity supply towers in the background-called pylons! I always laugh when I see the word is used in German for a traffic cone.)

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The two boys Indiana (Indy) and his smaller brother Yuma are now the same size as Flocke. Tala has grown a lot too but is still smaller than the others.

Any activity by the Rangers as the YWP keepers are known will bring Polar Bears to watch closely. This allowed me to take some pictures of “boomsies” for Mervi. 🙂

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The metal framed dens for the bears allow them to be looked after safely. They also allow you to see how big the whole family has grown.

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Sheila and Philip accompanied me to go and see how the boys were doing. As we approached their enclosure we were greeted by Nobby. He had found a quiet spot high up on the grass bank surrounding the enclosure.

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I was delighted to meet Sheila and Philip Baker at Flocke’s enclosure. They took this picture of me using my pull along suitcase as a seat (no benches at the enclosure) and using a pocket telescope bought in Oxford flea market the week before. They also kindly let me use this photo to show Flocke’s reaction! But seriously it shows how big the cubs have grown. Flocke is on the right. Indy and Yuma as often are huddled together on the left. Tala is in the middle.

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But for quite a while we watched Flocke take time out from her cubs. She even yawned. I did not see her feed them at all during the three days but she still spent a lot of time teaching them. Also if the cubs argued at all, Flocke would rush over to calm things down with a loud huff. In fact the cubs are very well behaved and seem to get along well with one another. Indiana likes to be with his Mum whereas Tala uses the whole space to go exploring. She watches Flocke closely and always rushes over to join the group. She seems to be in charge of the cubs as a MiniFlocke.

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Flocke loves rolling in the mulch provided at the front of the enclosure. Her shape as a female Polar Bear is very different from the males over in Project Polar One.

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The central den tunnels usually provide a place for a Polar Bear to rest. I was able to greet Sisu for Mervi. He looked up at me but I did not get a picture of that.

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A bit later on Sisu was joined in the tunnels by Nobby and Hamish.

Luka has taken over Victor’s role as the older bear. YWP have learnt quite a lot about male bear behaviour and the Rangers keep them apart if there is any risk.

I returned to Flocke later on. A Ranger was still working in the den so Flocke and her family were still watching patiently.

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I was impressed by how natural the enclosure is. I could imagine the den being a research post in the Canadian tundra with a wild Polar Bear family come to investigate. Such scenes in wildlife TV documentaries take months to film. At YWP they come daily.

Flocke does the investigating. Her cubs are so well brought up that they wait till Mum tells them to join her.

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The final two pictures of the day show Flocke and her cubs together.

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BN had been asleep in my pocket but he was keen to get to our hotel and have some supper. We had a long walk back to the bus stop but perhaps because I had not been with Polar Bears for a year I was quite happy.

And there was still more to come.




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  1. Dear Ralph,

    You had to wait a long time before you could visit your polar bear friends in YWP but I guess it was worth waiting. 🙂 You had a nice trip to Doncaster and back home. The buses seem to travel according the schedule, too!!

    It must have been great to meet Flocke and her trojka again. The kids have grown and are almost as big as their mama but they are still kids. I hope they can stay in this park as long as possible.

    I’m sure Sisu knew you were a friend and brought greetings from a ‘fellow countryman’ if one can say that of me. 🙂

    I like the close-ups of Nobby. He looks like he did when I visited him, Nela and Giovanna in July 2013. Oh bear, was is such a long time ago ….. time flies too fast to my liking!

    Thank you so much for this very entertaining and also informative report! I’m looking forward to more.

    Hugs from Mervi

    PS. The photo of you is great!

  2. Lieber Ralph,

    mir gefĂ€llt an deinen Reiseberichten, dass auch das Verkehrsmittel immer ausfĂŒhrlich gezeigt wird, so wie hier der riesige Bus, aus dessen Fenster dieses Mal BN nicht herausschauen konnte, weil er bei dir in der Jackentasche saß – vielleicht fliegt er auch lieber?

    Die Mitnahme deines Rollkoffers in den Park war eine gute Idee, so hattest du deine fahrbare “Bank” immer sitzbereit. NatĂŒrlich ist eine gemeinsame Erkundung wie hier mit Sheila und Philip besonders unterhaltsam und nur so können wir dich als “KapitĂ€n” mit Fernrohr sehen!

    Die BĂ€renkinder von Flocke sind schon so erwachsen, aber wie du schreibst, folgen sie immer noch sehr brav den Anweisungen ihrer Mutter. Flocke ist wirklich eine klasse BĂ€renmutter und hat ihre Kids bei allen Freiheiten, die sie ihnen auch Jungtiere schon gelassen hat, immer noch voll im Griff.

    Das System dieser vergitterten GĂ€nge und Boxen habe ich noch nicht richtig verstanden, aber es scheint sich zu bewĂ€hren und sieht s e h r stabil aus. Werden sie durch diese GĂ€nge in eine Innenbox gefĂŒhrt und getrennt und schlafen nachts nicht draußen in ihrem Freigehege?

    Ich kann gut verstehen, dass du die weiten Wege gerne gemacht hast, und nach der langen Wartezeit auf deine geliebten BĂ€ren lĂ€ĂŸt ein gutes Abendessen nachher alle Strapazen ganz klein werden.

    Vielen Dank fĂŒr deinen wieder so lebhaft beschriebenen Reiseverlauf und das schöne Wiedersehen mit Flocke und ihrer Troika!

    Herzliche GrĂŒĂŸe
    Britta-Gudrun

  3. Dear Ralph,
    You are lucky, to have seen Flocke with her triplets in her luxury apartments on the French Riviera, and now in her new country estate in Yorkshire. She is such a good mother.

    The excitement of a polar bear trip these days is a rare treat. Thanks for sharing the details of your excursion. I wish I could have been there with you.

    Molly

  4. Dear Ralph!
    Thank you for the vivid and detailed description of your trip to Yorkshire and your visit to the YWP.

    It must be love when you take an overnight coach trip to visit the polar bears. I am happy for you that you found them all well and in good shape.

    The fact that Flocke did everything right and raised her triplets well fills me with a certain satisfaction, as some “experts” deny hand-raised animals this ability…

    I think Nobby now looks very much like his father Yoghi and that touches me very much.
    I like the photo of you, it reminds me a bit of an explorer…!
    Thank you for this first part.

    Hugs
    Anke

  5. Dear Ralph!
    It is great that you found the possibility to visit YWP.
    Flocke`s kids grown since the last summer. I think they feel very well in YWP: They have a lot of space to walk around and they have many toys.
    Hugs
    Ludmila

  6. It was lovely to meet you recently Ralph and it is clear you have a good deal of knowledge, but more importantly a deep love for polar bears. Phil and I both love polar bears too and consider ourselves very fortunate that we live so close to YWP and can visit as often as we like.

    We’re in awe of how good a mum Flocke is and it’s a testament to her that her cubs are so healthy and happy. We hope they will have a home at YWP for a long time to come!

    Best wishes

    Sheila and Phil Baker

  7. Dear Ralph

    Even if the way is long and arduous, you don’t have to drive to the YWP.

    Thank you for all the information and also for the lovely prints of Flocke’s family.

    Hugs
    Anita

  8. Thank you very much dear Ralph.
    Best wishes to Flocke, Tala, Yuma, Indiana, Luka, Hamish, Nobby and Sisu.

  9. dear Ralph,
    thank you so much for your interesting report and for all your fantastic pictures, I am glad you could visit the Yorkshire Wilflife park and you have seen Flocke and her kids there and the big “boys”. And it is always a joy to meet nice Polar bear friends like Sheila and Philip. It is so nice to see these big bear children, they are still happy together with Mama. So sweet that BN was with you.
    dear greetings and paw waves
    Filomena.

  10. Lieber Ralph!

    Dein Bericht mit anschaulicher Reisebeschreibung ist wieder wunderbar. Der Wildpark ist ja ein echtes EisbĂ€ren refugium geworden, die Baeren haben es dort wunderschön. Danke fĂŒr die tollen Bilder.

    Liebe GrĂŒĂŸe, Erika

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