Just days after plans were revealed to bring a polar bear to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, work is already under way to find her a friend.
Staff at the park revealed they are liaising with the European breeding programme for polar bears and are expecting the arrival of a young male bear in spring 2014.
John Minion, the park’s CEO, said: “We will concentrate on bears which are not currently required in the breeding programme or have been retired from it and will work with staff and research students to study the optimum welfare and husbandry for the bears in the new state of the art enclosure.”
Staff at YWP are already in the process of trying to save Yupi, a 22-year-old female polar bear, from a miserable life in Mexico.
She has spent almost all her life in a grim, concrete enclosure in soaring temperatures – and now the Doncaster-based park wants to give her the chance to chill out.
If the offer of rehoming Yupi is successful, she will be the first polar bear to live in England in more than 20 years.
Now YWP aims to raise £150,000 towards the cost of creating the new reserve – which is already under construction – for polar bears in need of rescuing.
The £750,000 project is set to span 10 acres and will feature landscaped hills, valleys and a main lake with streams, pools and waterfalls and is set to be completed early next year.
Cheryl Williams, from the wildlife park, said: “This is the ultimate project for YWP. It is combining conservation, welfare and husbandry and education about the impacts of climate change and global warming.
“Polar bears are an iconic species that are increasingly threatened in their native habitat and we need to fight their cause.”
Yupi has lived in Morelia Zoo since 1992 after being captured in the wild in Alaska as a cub.
Yupi’s concrete enclosure has little shade, a pool which is not kept cool and little stimulation.
Temperatures can reach 35C, leaving her in danger of overheating.
A formal request has been made to Mexico’s Morelia Zoo for it to let Yupi go and the park is waiting for a response.
It follows the park’s ambitious project to bring a pride of Romanian lions to Doncaster several years ago.