Monday 27 March 2017

Hats off to Walker the polar bear

Polar bear Walker, based at the Highland Wildlife Park in Inverness-shire, has been showered with gifts from the public
Polar bear Walker, based at the Highland Wildlife Park in Inverness-shire, has been showered with gifts from the public

Fans of the UK's only polar bear have showered him with gifts of his favourite toy - plastic hard hats.

Keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park in Inverness-shire where Walker the polar bear lives discovered his penchant for the headgear when volunteers from the Royal Monmouthshire Regiment Territorial Army and the 73 Engineer Squadron Territorial Army visited the park to assist with construction projects.

Head keeper Una Richardson said: "Walker lights up when he sees you coming with a hard hat.

"Polar bears are naturally very playful animals and Walker is no exception. While he has many toys, including traffic cones and plastic barrels, he loves hard hats which he can pounce on and get a hold of with his jaw.

"This enrichment has huge benefits for Walker because it encourages him to develop the natural skills polar bears rely on

"Walker showed a huge interest in the volunteers' hard hats. He totally fixated on a hard hat one of the volunteers was holding, so we thought we would offer him one and see what he did with it."

Since then, fans of Walker who have seen pictures of the 58-stone bear playing with the hard hats posted on the internet, have been sending him some as gifts.

So far the bear, born in Rhenen Zoo in Holland on December 7 2008, has received 10 - many of which have been bought specifically for him.

Ms Richardson said: "Hard hats don't last very long once Walker's got a hold of them. After two days they are ruined so we are delighted to receive donations to keep up the supply.

"Some donations have come from people working in construction. Others have come from people who have ordered hats online and donated them to the park."

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