Mercedes the Polar Bear passes away at the Highland Wildlife Park
It was in the early 80's that Mercedes the female Polar Bear was helped with an overseas member of the Royal Zoological Society and the Mercedes motor vehicle group to move from Churchill, Manitoba, to Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland.
Mercedes lived in Edinburgh Zoo until 2009. A new enclosure was built with the help of the british Army in Kincraig, Mercedes was moved in 2009 to the new enclosure. In 2010, Walker the Polar Bear was introduced and the bears lived together yet apart in the enclosure.
Mercedes the bear's health deteriorated, it is thought that mercedes had severe arthritis, she has now been laid to rest.
I accompanied some key staff and a vet with Mercedes from Edinburgh Zoo to the Highland Wildlife Park in 2009 along with a couple of TV Broadcast crews. Mercedes was at the time quite active, she was regularly seen peeking out of her crate to see what the deal was outside. A crane attached to a lorry lifted Mercedes up onto the back of the truck. Mercedes was driven carefully accross the Forth Road Bridge, past Perth and up the A9 to the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig, David Barclay, a dedicated member of staff at the Highland Wildlife Park and former keeper in Edinburgh Zoo, and some other staff including Alison Maclean and Douglas Richardson was there to make sure Mercedes got out of her container and into her new housing area comfortably, this went without a hitch.
After some sniffing around, she had a drink, had a munch then went out to see her bed, which resembles a small shed. Mercedes was eager to see what was going on, and was more than aware of the zoo staff and myself who were watching her.
Mercedes was then introduced to the press when the press call came to show the world the Canadian Bear settling into her new home.
When the snow came, Mercedes was in her element, clawing at the snow, hiding fish and other mean under it (Knowing where to find it later, perhaps as a game) and rolling around, at some points she was half submerged in the white stuff. Taking images was interesting, because deaing with the electric fence and Mercedes doing Pseudo charges hence chucking up snow and making the knuckes a bit white, was quite tricky.
Sometimes Douglas, Animal Collection manager or David Barclay, Carnivore specialist, sent meat hurtling over the fence and calling her for attention, all this helped get the snow pics that people will remember her by. David, Douglas and other staff at the zoo became close to Mercedes and later Walker too, Walker had a younger outlook naturally, so is very playful.
It is with sadness that Mercedes has passed away, but she will not be in pain any more. We should all remember that humans can destroy everying and anything (And do on a regular basis) but also have the power to change things. The heartful citizen that decided to take all possible actions to save Mercedes from being shot since people were getting scared back in Canada, shows that humans can be decent, long may that continue and the destruction decline considerably.
Mercedes the Polar Bear. 1980-2011
See a slideshow of Mercedes in the snow here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaron-sneddon/sets/72157623578236868/show/
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Aaron Sneddon April 15th 2011.
Royal Zoological Society / Edinburgh Zoo: http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/
Highland Wildlife Park Kincraig: http://www.highlandwildlifepark.org/
Aaron Sneddon: http://www.aaronsneddon.co.uk
Aaron Sneddon images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaron-sneddon/sets/