Gallery: Polar bear Rasputin, the newest resident of Tallinn Zoo

On Friday, Tallinn Zoo received their newest resident - male polar bear Rasputin. Rasputin arrived in Tallinn from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park as part of an EZEA program to increase polar bear numbers worldwide.

Rasputin's transport from Yorkshire to Tallinn began on Tuesday morning last week and the trip took four days to complete with stops along the way. Tõnis Tasane, collection director at Tallinn Zoo, said getting the bear to its transportation box was no easy task.

"We are dealing with a 500kg beast with a quite careful and sensitive character. Now that the bear has arrived, we will first give him time to acclimate with the new conditions and people," Tasane said.

"Once the quarantine passes and we are convinced that the bear's health is okay and the animal has adapted nicely to the new environment, we can let Rasputin onto the outdoor zone, where guests can get a look at him as well," he added.

Janos Szantho, coordinator for the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria's (EZEA) polar bear program gave the recommendation to have Rasputin stay in Tallinn for a while.

Tallinn Zoo director Tiit Maran said: "According to the species coordinator, both Friida (Tallinn Zoo's female polar bear - ed.) and Rasputin are compatible animals, carrying valuable genes."

The first meeting between the new partners will likely take place next year and in the case of succesful mating, there could be very good offspring. "The event will be that much more special as very few European zoos are given a permit by the coordinator to have offspring," Maran said.

With a birthday on November 19, the Moscow Zoo born Rasputin turned 13 on the car ride to Tallinn. In addition to Yorkshire, the polar bear has also resided in Nuremberg, Germany and in the Marineland of Antibes, a theme park in France.

Friida, born in Tallinn Zoo, is set to turn 18 on December 16 and has given birth to Nora, currently living in Vienna, Austria, and Aron, who was transferred to the La Fleche zoo in France in early-November.

The transfer of Rasputin was enabled by the Endangered Species Program (EEP) of the EAZA, in which Tallinn Zoo is participating with at least 57 species.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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