Polar bear taken in at Suffolk zoo

A polar bear has arrived at TV presenter Jimmy Doherty's zoo after being rescued from Sweden.

Jimmy's Farm & Wildlife Park, near Ipswich, said female bear Ewa would have been put to sleep if they had not taken her in.

However, her adult cub Miki died "as she arrived into her new home" the park said.

The farm said its new enclosure was "Europe's largest polar bear reserve" and it adhered to "very strict rules".

Ewa had previously lived at the Orsa Rovdjurspark (Orsa Predator Park) in central Sweden, which closed in November last year.

Jimmy's Farm said staff in Sweden "were ordered to dispense of all animals" and put to sleep any that could not be rehomed.

"We said 'well, we've got to do something'," Mr Doherty, who has presented various TV shows including Jimmy's Farm and Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast, told BBC Radio Suffolk.

He said he "couldn't bear the idea of her being put to sleep", so decided to take advice from "experts around the world, so that we could do it properly".

Responding to social media comments questioning keeping an Arctic animal in a temperate climate like East Anglia's, Mr Doherty said they had worked to ensure Ewa was comfortable and happy.

"In Hudson Bay, where you see polar bears live in the wild, temperatures in the summer go up to about 24 degrees [celcius, or 75F]," he said.

"We always associate polar bears with snow, but in their summer you see them strolling through wildflower meadows."

Jimmy's Farm has created a bespoke area including several deep lakes and five acres of woodland.

He said the water - up to 14m (45ft) deep - would help Ewa to regulate her temperature.

"If we get a particularly hot summer, she can dive deep into that lake where it's super cold, or she can get shade in the woodland," said Mr Doherty.

He added that they were adhering to "very strict" guidelines laid out by zoos across Europe and had taken advice from experts across the continent and Russia.

'Heart condition'

They had hoped to bring Ewa's adult daughter Mika over too, but announced that "despite all the efforts of experts from around the world", she died on arriving at the zoo.

In a statement, Jimmy's Farm said: "Like all rescue missions, total success is not guaranteed.

"Despite all the efforts of experts from around the world we have suffered the loss of one of the bears as she arrived into her new home.

"Upon veterinary post-mortem it was established that the bear had an unknown heart condition from an early age that sadly meant she passed away."

"She had an oversized heart and she was probably going to die of that in Sweden - but for us it was 'let's give her a chance' because there was no other alternative," Mr Doherty said.

He added that they had strong security systems to protect visitors and staff.

"Polar bears are the largest land carnivore on the planet. She's super friendly but it's a wild animal, just like the Arctic wolves, and that's why we have all these security measures in place," he said.