Long-standing resident bears Fluff and Scruff have opened their hearts and paws in the first of a series of carefully planned introductions orchestrated by world-leading experts at the Kent wildlife park.
Keepers at Wildwood Kent are celebrating this week after a successful first meeting between one-year-old bear cub, Boki, and their adult male bears.
The heartwarming introduction, which saw Fluff and Scruff play-fighting with the young cub, came just four months after Boki arrived at the park, near Herne Bay, in search of a new family.
A difficult start for Boki
Carefully monitored daily introductions are now being run by the team at Wildwood to help the relationship between the bears develop. It’s a positive first step for Boki, who was rejected by his mother shortly after his birth at Port Lympne and had to be hand reared by keepers.
Despite numerous attempts to reintegrate him into their brown bear family – rescue bears from a Spanish circus – they soon realised that it was in his best interests to move to Wildwood, which has an impressive six-year track record of rehabilitating bears.
The new start bodes well
Jon Forde, Wildwood’s head bear keeper, says the first introduction went as well as they’d hoped but they’re not taking anything for granted:
“We knew when we agreed to take Boki that we’d need to work hard to help him learn bear behaviours and get him to a place where he could mix with the older boys.
“We’re delighted to see them interact so well in the first instance – Fluff has taken to him particularly well – but this is just the first in a series of introductions and we’re not out of the woods yet.
“We’ll continue to work closely with our counterparts at Port Lympne in the hope that one day the three bears can be fully integrated.”
Fluff and Scruff’s cruel treatment
The first meeting between the three bears has added poignancy given Fluff and Scruff’s own back story. The pair were rescued in Bulgaria eight years ago. They’d suffered years of physical and mental trauma when they were held in an abandoned breeding facility under horrific conditions to be shot for ‘sport’.
Wildwood Trust received worldwide acclaim for its rehabilitation of the duo. It was as a result of the charity’s impressive reputation in this field that the team was contacted to help provide a permanent woodland sanctuary for two abandoned bear cubs, Mish and Lucy, who now live at the Trust’s sister park in Devon.
Adopt a bear cub
Boki’s arrival at the park has already been well received by the Trust’s visitors and supporters, who can now book a once-in-a-lifetime ‘bear experience’ for themselves or a loved one, which will bring them within touching distance of the cub. The experience will include exclusive behind the scenes access to the cub and the chance to scatter a feed before meeting him and giving him a treat in his enclosure.
There is also the chance to adopt the cub. Adoptions last for one year and are the perfect gift for any animal lover. They include a certificate of adoption, personalised plaque at the enclosure, photograph and an animal fact sheet as well as a free one-day entrance ticket to the park.
All proceeds from our animal adoptions and experiences help Wildwood’s vital work to conserve, protect and rewild British wildlife.
To find out more, you can visit our website https://kent.wildwoodtrust.org
As a leading British animal conservation charity, The Wildwood Trust’s mission is to protect, conserve and rewild British Wildlife. Our ground-breaking conservation programmes currently include Wilder Blean, a joint project with Kent Wildlife Trust, to bring bison to the Blean Woods and Bringing Back Britain’s Wildcats, a national reintroduction of Britain’s last remaining native cat species.
The Wildwood Trust runs Kent and Devon’s best British wildlife parks. We are home to over 200 native animals, past and present and each site is set in 16 hectares [40 acres] of beautiful ancient woodland. Across our parks, visitors can see bears, wolves, bison, deer, owls, foxes, red squirrels, wild boar, lynx, wild horses, badgers and beavers plus many more.