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New Yorkshire home for Japanese brown bears

Yorkshire Wildlife Park will soon welcome four mature brown bears from Japan as part of an international rehoming project.

The bears are currently being kept at the Ainu Culture Museum on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s islands. However, concerns were raised about the conditions the bears were living in at the museum so a decision was made to move them.

The four Ussuri brown bears  – Riku, Kai, Hanako and Amu – will travel 5,400 miles to Yorkshire, closely monitored along their route by an experienced veterinary team. The Doncaster based wildlife park was chosen as the bears new home because of its global reputation for animal welfare and conservation of at-risk species.

“The Museum does not have the experience or resources to look after the bears now, and wished to find them a new home, so animal welfare organisations around the world teamed up to find a solution,” said John Minion, CEO of the park.

“We are fortunate we have the space, animal management skills and experience to rehome these bears that will require specialist care, and we are looking forward to welcoming them to Yorkshire. We are grateful to the Ainu Museum for releasing the bears to us here where we will be able to give them a secure and nurturing future.”

Ussuri brown bears are native to Japan and can weigh up to 550kg, living for up to 35 years. The bears are threatened as a species in the wild due to habitat loss and illegal hunting, and are extinct across parts of Asia, with estimates at just 10,000 left in Japan.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation has been working alongside other organisations to secure the bears’ move, including agencies in Japan and with UK charity Wild Welfare, a global organisation committed to improving welfare standards in captive wild animal facilities.

“It’s great that these four bears are coming to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, which has a great track record. We know they will provide the bears with a great home, where they can receive the rehabilitation, enrichment and life-long care they need.” said Georgina Groves Wild Welfare’s projects director.

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