Rescued bear arrives in Devon via Eurotunnel

A brown bear, that was set to be killed in Sweden, has arrived in Devon after travelling by Eurotunnel.
Wildwood Trust, a conservation charity, said it had helped rescue Diego – “the last remaining bear” at a Swedish zoo.

Sweden’s Orsa Predator Park is closing and staff were told to “euthanise” any animals left behind, the trust said.
The trust’s Mark Habben said Diego made a timely exit and was settling well at Devon Wildlife Park near Exeter after his train journey.

Mr Habben, director of zoological operations at the trust, said the 57 stone (360kg) bear was originally booked on the ferry but Storm Ciaran made it “too risky” an option.
“We had to make last minute arrangements to transport him by train,” he added.
“He had his own carriage, he was awake but tired and sleepy.”
Diego the bear

IMAGE SOURCE, WILDWOOD TRUST
Image caption,
Diego the bear has settled in well, staff said
After arriving in Devon at about 20:00 GMT on Thursday, he remained “calm and settled” as he was moved into his new enclosure, said Mr Habben.

“It was pitch black and pouring with rain and very windy so it was a challenge but Diego was in a dry warm crate and settled well into his enclosure.”
The trust will house Diego “temporarily” over the winter.
Diego was expected to spend much of this time in “winter torpor”.
This is a period of rest for bears, in which they “sleep deeply for weeks or month with short periods of activity”.
Diego in Sweden before the move


IMAGE SOURCE, WILDWOOD TRUST
Image caption,
Diego travelled by Eurotunnel after the ferry was deemed “too risky”
The bear will then be moved to Jimmy’s Farm and Wildlife Park in Ipswich.
Other than a lynx, 9ft (2.7m) Diego was the last remaining animal in the Swedish zoo, said Mr Habben.
“We had no plans to hold another bear here in the foreseeable, but had we not done I don’t think he’d be alive right now,” he added.
The trust has built a reputation for working with European Brown Bears, having rescued orphans Lucy and Mish from abandonment in Albania in 2019.
Mark Habben
IMAGE SOURCE, WILDWOOD TRUST
Image caption,
Mark Habben said the move has been supported by people in Devon and Sweden
Mr Habben said Diego had become a “big name” in Sweden and there was a groundswell of support to find him a new home.
He added: “He’s wonderful, really big, gentle and very calm and intelligent.
“It’s taken an awful lot of people over two organisations working closely with Sweden to manage this very, very complex move.
“The people of Devon have really got behind it and we’ve had tremendous support.”
Park staff said they became aware of Diego’s plight while rescuing a polar bear from the same Swedish zoo.
Jimmy Doherty, from Jimmy’s Farm and Wildlife Park, said Wildwood’s help would give them time to build Diego a “fantastic environment”.