The polar bear breeding programme at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park has taken another huge step forward as – after all the behaviours indicated female polar bear Victoria had come into estrus – Arktos and Victoria were successfully introduced.
On Tuesday 15 March Arktos, the oldest of the Park’s two male polar bears, was transported the short mile across the Park to move into a specially designed enclosure adjacent to Victoria, the UK’s only female polar bear. Keepers were delighted to see the bears take to each other straight away, with lots of head bobbing, bouncing and vocalisations. The new pair were so keen on each other that they slept at the fence line and repeatedly tried to touch. On the morning of Saturday 19 March, the two bears met properly for the first time as Arktos went to live temporarily in Victoria’s enclosure.
Mating has since occurred on many occasions and Arktos and Victoria will continue to live together 24 hours a day for the next week or two, mimicking what would occur naturally in the wild. Sleeping side by side, following each other around and resting their heads on each other, the two polar bears have really bonded.
Vickie Larkin, Head Carnivore Keeper at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, said: “It’s fantastic news and their introduction couldn’t have gone any better. Both polar bears have really warmed to each other and all the signs are really positive. From the first moment they met, Arktos has been really gentle with Victoria and their bond has been immediate.
“Polar bear breeding is inherently complex as the species are induced ovulators, meaning that the female only releases an egg after initial mating occurs; they also practice delayed implantation, where the egg doesn’t implant into the uterine wall until some months later If successful, Victoria will not fall pregnant until August to September time. Other key stages are her entering the birthing den in October to November and potentially giving birth in December to January. Any cubs would then not come out of the birthing den until March to April 2017.”
Chris West, CEO of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of endangered species, this is the first time in 25 years that polar bear breeding has successfully taken place on UK soil. This is something to be celebrated.
“At RZSS we have a duty to help protect the future of this magnificent species, and our polar bears benefit from the largest enclosures in the world and expert husbandry that is second to none.
“Climate change is predicted to cause further sea-ice losses and horrifying statistics estimate that the global population of polar bears could decline by over 30% in just three generations*. Any cubs born to Victoria will help to populate a healthy ex-situ ‘ark’ of polar bears to give conservationists as many future options as possible.
“As we always say, in an ideal world, conservation would happen primarily in the wild but, when issues exist in the wild, the next best thing is a combined in-situ and ex-situ approach that has the goal of one day restoring or augmenting wild populations.”
Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family
When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?
What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?
As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.
Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.
5 Good Options
As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:
1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country
Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.
2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.
3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.
4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.
5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel
If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?
Putting it All Together
You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.
You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.
How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life
Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense. But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?
For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out. A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession. This bigger issue was that of climate change. And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.
Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more. He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland. There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.
The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done. With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet. The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind. As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness. The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small. The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty. As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.
We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help. And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet. Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change. You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed. But so is he. Every change starts with one.
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