Yorkshire Wildlife Park announces sad loss of rescued Brown Bears

Yorkshire Wildlife Park announces with deep sadness that Hanako, the last of the Ussuri brown bears rescued from Japan, has died.

Vets have been rehabilitating and treating Hanako since her arrival last summer. She had lived for 27 years in outdated 6ft by 9ft cages at a Japanese cultural museum on the island of Hokkaido.

Her previous cramped and poor conditions meant that Hanako had with chronic health problems. When they arrived, they had problems with their teeth, mal-nourishment, joint and limb problems and they were underweight. Hanako also had specialist ophthalmic care for eye problems. Sadly, after the recurrence of stomach problems and several fits yesterday, the park vets made the decision to put her to sleep. A post mortem will be carried out early next week.

The park would like to thank the dedicated Carnivore and Vet teams, who have loved and cared for Hanako since her arrival and who today are grieving for her as she was a real character and favourite at the park for staff and visitors alike.

Hanako came to YWP last August after her museum home realised, they did not have the experience or resources to look after the bears they kept there 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 the bears recover their inquisitive nature and allow them to enjoy playing together.

Ussuri Brown bears are also known as the ‘Black Grizzly’ and can weigh 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.

Photo courtesy Yorkshire Wildife Park Hanako, the old female Brown Bear.