Mercedes has a new base

By Lori Cormack, 22nd October 2009

polar-bear-tongue.jpegScotland’s only polar bear has had her first public viewing in her new habitat today.

Mercedes was moved from Edinburgh Zoo to the Highland Wildlife Park, in Inverness-shire, on Monday. But today has been the first opportunity for visitors to see the rare beast.

The move comes after zoo bosses believed her new enclosure of more than four acres was thought to suit that of wild polar bears more than her previous enclosure at the capitals zoo.

Douglas Richardson, animal collection manager at the Highland wildlife park told BBC news that all went well during the transfer.

He said ‘She has settled in very well and we’re looking forward to seeing her explore her outdoor enclosure which, at around four acres, is one of the largest polar bear enclosures in the world.’

Mercedes (so called because the car-giants paid for her transfer) was brought to Scotland from Canada 20 years ago. It is thought Mercedes is around 27 years old, and these types of bears can live in to their early 30s.

In 2005, Edinburgh Zoo unveiled plans for a new multi-million pound enclosure for the rare animal, in order to ensure her future at the attraction. However, this was met with great criticism from animal rights groups, who claimed that Mercedes was distressed and bored. They also claimed that polar bears should not be kept in captivity due to their high level of intelligence and called for the Zoo to have the animal moved to a better environment.