Aug 06, 2018: DHL Global Forwarding, division of Deutsche Post DHL Group, has transported four of Hokkaido's Ussuri brown bears - Riku, Kai, Hanako and Amu to their new home in the United Kingdom's Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
The bears, ranging from 17 to 27 years old, were transported with utmost care during the 9,000 kilometres journey.
Moving from Hokkaido, the bears' 20-hour voyage saw them travel via special temperature-controlled trucks chilled to 10°C for the journey to the New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido. From the Hokkaido airport, they were flown to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, where they boarded a connecting flight to Heathrow Airport, London.
Two veterinarians and two animal handlers travelled alongside the precious cargo, as maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for the bears was of paramount importance.
"The transport of live animals requires extensive planning and collaboration between various parties," said Paul Chinery, vice president Airfreight UK, DHL Global Forwarding.
Each Ussuri brown bear can weigh up to 550 kilograms and requires temperatures to be maintained as closely as possible to their native climate in northern Japan and Korea. Therefore, purpose-built crates that could fit into the aircraft were produced for each of the bears to ensure they were comfortable throughout the trip.
DHL Global Forwarding worked closely with the Park to plan and orchestrate the complex voyage, optimising and customising transport routes and modes respectively. The company also provided expedited customs clearance for the bears' arrival in London while Park staff managed final leg of the journey from the airport to their new home.
"Spacious, temperature-controlled environments were a necessity for the bears' welfare along the voyage," said John Minion, CEO, Yorkshire Wildlife Park. "DHL took utmost care to ensure the animals arrived with as little stress and risk to their health as possible - no mean feat for such a lengthy and complex journey. The bears will be the first residents in a new Rehabilitation Centre at the Park - a 2.5-acre specialist reserve which has been designed for short to mid-term housing of carnivores who have been rehomed - before moving into their permanent home at the Park. We are excited to prepare the bears for their new home where they will receive the lifelong care they need."
The bears will spend the rest of their lives in the care of expert handlers at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, a world leader in endangered species welfare which also hosts one of the largest polar bear conservation projects in the world.
The endangered Ussuri brown bear, also known as the black grizzly bear, is found in many regions in the world but they are extinct across parts of Asia.
Reported to be 10,000 left in Japan, the bears are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to their vulnerability to habitat loss, illegal hunting and capture, and being poached for body parts and skins.