The Highland Wildlife Park threw a joint party for resident polar bears Walker and Arktos on December 2 after they each turned a year older.

Both bears were treated to special ice cakes, created by their keepers and filled with some of their favourite foods such as sardines and carrots. To add to the enriched environment, the ice cakes were attached to ropes and tied to trees within the almost six-acre enclosure.

According to the Kingussie-based park, the 5 and 6-year-old boys are the only two polar bears in a public collection in the UK and are firm favourites with visitors.

Douglas Richardson, head of living collections at the park, said: “Walker and Arktos are without a doubt very special boys. Since they each arrived, they have quickly become iconic characters for the park and the keepers have developed close bonds with them.

“As is to be expected of young male bears, they can be mischievous at times and really enjoy destroying any enrichment they receive. They also act as important ambassadors for climate change and all of the visitor information boards around the enclosure focus upon climate change and the threats the species is facing in the wild.”

Walker was born in December 2008 and arrived at the park in 2010 from Rhenen Zoo in the Netherlands. Arktos was born on St Andrew’s Day (November 30) in 2007 at Vienna Zoo, Austria, and joined Walker at the park in April 2012.

Since Arktos’ arrival, the bears have been firm friends and can often be seen playing together, dunking each other in the pond or just dozing in the sun.  

Native to the Arctic region, polar bears are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List and have become one of the main symbols for the fight against climate change.

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