Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 12:01 UK

Polar bear preparing to move home

Mercedes the polar bear
Mercedes has lived at Edinburgh Zoo since 1984

The UK's only polar bear is preparing to move from her Edinburgh home to a new "tundra like" enclosure in the Highlands.

Mercedes will relocate from Edinburgh Zoo to the Highland Wildlife Park, near Kingussie.

Her new home extends over four acres of land regarded as more typical of the natural habitat of polar bears.

The last chance to see Mercedes at Edinburgh Zoo - her home since 1984 - will be on Sunday 18 October.

Final preparations will then be made for her departure and she will travel north by road in a transport crate, which she has been trained to walk into by keepers.

The Highland Wildlife Park is a much more suitable environment for a polar bear
David Windmill
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

When she arrives at her new base she will be given time to get used to her surroundings before being shown to the public, possibly by the end of the month.

David Windmill, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which owns both facilities, said: "Mercedes has been at Edinburgh Zoo for 25 years and has been a favourite with both visitors and staff and I know her keepers will be sad to see her go.

"However she's still in the RZSS animal collection and the Highland Wildlife Park is a much more suitable environment for a polar bear."

The zoo plans to introduce other species to replace the void left by the animal's departure in due course.

Mercedes was rescued from her native Canada and brought to Scotland after she was scheduled to be shot because she had begun roaming into a nearby town in search of food.

A public appeal has helped raise £75,000 needed to fund her transfer.



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