The last polar bear alive in Korea is to move to a new home at Doncaster’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park, co-founded by Connect Yorkshire EIR Cheryl Williams.
Tongki, 24, will become the park’s latest polar bear when he arrives in Britain for his retirement later this year.
He will be become the Branton-based park’s fifth polar bear when he is transported 5,500 miles from his current home at the Everland Zoo in South Korea. YWP staff and vets have already visited Tongki and performed health checks to check he is fit to travel from Korea to Yorkshire in November.
John Minion, CEO at the park, said: “We are delighted to accept Tongki and give him a wonderful retirement in the ten acre reserves here at YWP.
“Our top priority is to keep him healthy and happy. The journey from Korea will be long, but we have plans in place to make it a smooth and comfortable transition.
“We can’t wait to see him enjoying space here and diving into the deep lakes.”
Vet Dr. Jonathan Cracknell added: “We have spent time at Everland assessing Tongki for the journey and he is in very good health for a bear of his age and has routinely received good health care.”
A spokesman from Everland said: “We are delighted Tongki will be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement in his new home at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. The rolling terrain, lakes and four new Polar friends are sure to keep him busy.”
YWP will consult Everland over the upcoming months on preparing Tongki for his journey and enrichment programmes for him.
Tongki is the only living Polar Bear in Korea. He was born in a zoo in Masan, Gyeongsangnam and relocated to Everland in 1997, where he was considered a star attraction and loved by visitors.
Reaching the grand age of 70-80 in human age, the retired bear is ready to enjoy a comfortable life alongside current residents of Project Polar, Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby, who can often be spotted roaming in Project Polar, which includes dens, pools, lakes in a rolling landscape and is designed to reflect the habitat of the summer Arctic tundra.
The park’s charity, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation raises funds for polar bears, works with Polar Bears International to help bears in the wild and with the IUCN Specialist Climate Change group as climate change. Polar bears are threatened by global warming reducing their Arctic hunting and breeding.