A video has been posted of a polar bear family having the time of their lives with a water raft at the Peak Wildlife Park in Staffordshire, England. The family of three were sent to the park from a Swedish zoo that has since closed down.
Watching Mama Bear, Hope, 8, and her twin boys, Nanook and Noori, both 2 years old, jumping around so excitedly is pretty heartwarming. The family took turns to float around on the raft, even jumping off rocks and landing on them. Thanks to Park staff Mike for building a new water raft that has provided so much fun for the trio.
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The park had seen another zoo attempt to build a similar raft without success. “Our keeper, Mike, loves building enrichment for our animals and loves a challenge, so he got in contact with the other zoo and built it!” said Becky Parsons, an Operations and Education/Conservation Officer at the Peak Wildlife Park.
Speaking about the condition of the polar bears, Parsons disclosed that the bears’ enclosure hosts a different enrichment activity every day. She says this strategy aims at keeping them “mentally, physically and environmentally stimulated.”
She went on to add that “Their enclosure is made up of two differently designed areas, they have full access to both areas…one area is more open whereas the other has more trees. Both areas have large deep pools, one is 8 meters deep and the other is 6 meters deep. They spend a lot of their time in the water so it is great they have access to these pools.”
In the face of a fierce campaign against keeping wild animals in captivity, the video has yet again made a case for zoos like the Peak Wildlife Park, which are making impressive efforts to house wildlife in appropriate conditions.
Speaking about the controversy surrounding wildlife captivity, Parsons believes that her institution, just like several others, is providing living conditions close to natural habitats.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA)-accredited zoos, such as Peak Wildlife Park, ensure to reach the highest of animal welfare standards and work very closely with species monitors to ensure animals in zoos are genetically healthy, which is safeguarding the future of their wild counterparts,” she explained.
A notable scientist, biologist David Attenborough has added his voice to those of Park operators. He believes that the clamor for wildlife freedom should be less emphasized for several species.
“Some animals thrive in captivity and some don’t. Eagles should not be kept in zoos. But there are monkeys, for example, which do perfectly well and animals in aquaria do very well indeed…I justify zoos providing they are scientific, providing they are selective about what they keep, and provided they keep them to the highest possible standards. That’s OK by me,” he advised.
The video is a testament that certain species of wildlife can do just fine in captivity if in the hands of passionate handlers like Peak Wildlife Park.