Yorkshire Wildlife Park announces with deep sadness today that Kai, one of the Ussuri brown bears rescued from Japan, has died.
Vets have been treating the 18 year-old bear since his arrival last Summer after almost two decades of living in outdated 6ft by 9ft cages at a Japanese cultural museum on the island of Hokkaido.
His previous cramped and poor conditions meant that Kai as well as the other two rescued bears Riku and Hannako came with chronic health problems. When they arrived they had problems with their teeth, malnourishment, joint and limb problems and they were underweight.
Since his arrival Kai had been treated with joint injections to relieve osteoarthritis, believed to have been caused by his former living conditions.
But an intense programme of treatment failed to make any impact on his condition, which made him increasingly immobile.
Sadly, as a result, this week vets made the decision to put him to sleep.
The park would also like to thank the dedicated staff team who have loved and cared for Kai since his arrival. Today we are grieving for this incredible animal, loved by staff and visitors alike.
Kai came to YWP last August after his museum home realised they did not have the experience or resources to look after the three bears and wished to find them a new home, but one could not be found in Japan.
The museum chose the Yorkshire Wildlife Park as the bear’s new home because of the park’s expertise in welfare and rehabilitation, and a meticulously planned operation transferred them 5,400 miles to a purpose-built Rescue and Rehabilitation Reserve at the park.
A team of vets and park staff devised a nutrition and enrichment programme to help them recover their inquisitive nature and allow them to enjoy playing together.
Ussuri Brown bears are also known as the Black Grizzly and can weight up to 550kg, as well as some living up to 35 years old.
They are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as they have increased vulnerability due to habitat loss and illegal hunting, for body parts and skin. They live in forests from coastal to mountain regions, but the bears are extinct across parts of Asia and there are only thought to be around 10,000 left in Japan.