Four asylum seekers snuck into a truck on Tuesday night, carrying a polar bear from Russia to the U.K. via the port of Calais.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park were waiting for their latest addition to their polar bear project to arrive Tuesday, never expecting the excitement that would happen while Nissan was on the last leg of his journey from the port of Calais in France to the UK.
Several asylum seekers were apparently so desperate to reach the U.K., they broke into the truck under cover of night. When they saw the cage inside the truck, containing Nissan the polar bear, it didn’t deter them from climbing into the vehicle, hoping to reach safety in the U.K.
— freightlink (@freightlink) October 14, 2015
According to RT, a car was following the truck at the time and a passenger captured the whole incident on camera, showing several asylum seekers climbing in next to the polar bear’s cage, as others closed the door behind them and moved off the road.
Simon Bridger, 36, of West Malling in Kent, told the Sun newspaper Wednesday that it only took the four migrants 17 seconds to vault over the barrier and force open the back doors of the truck.
“They must have had the surprise of their lives. It shows how desperate they are to get to Britain.”
However, judging from the video below, they appear to show no surprise or shock on encountering the polar bear as they calmly climb into the truck.
It turned out to be a short-lived experience, however, as ten minutes later the French police arrived on the scene and took the men out of the truck. Nissan, the 22-month-old polar bear, who was traveling from the Moscow Zoo via Frankfurt to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster, U.K., was apparently totally unfazed by the experience.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Nissan arrived safely at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and is doing “absolutely fine,” according to a spokesman.The additional video at the end of this article shows Nissan arriving at the wildlife park, where he will eventually join the other polar bears, Victor, 17 and Pixel, 2, in the 10-acre Project Polar reserve.
Reportedly, the polar bear had been transported from Russia under special climate controlled conditions, by air, road, and sea, to Frankfurt, from where he continued his 1,000-mile journey by road and ferry to the U.K.
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) October 15, 2015
Simon Marsh, Animal Manager at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, said that Nissan is settling in really well, they are pleased to have him there, and that he will soon be joining the other two polar bears.
“He is in the house at the moment while he gets to know his surroundings, the rangers who will be looking after him and will also get to know Victor and Pixel.
Every animal takes a different length of time to settle in but we are sure he will be out so that people will be able to see him over the next few weeks.”
Reportedly, it took nearly a year to plan the move under the strict welfare regulations in force throughout the trip, but they never planned on the group of asylum seekers hitching a ride with the bear.
After the men were removed from the truck by French police, support staff checked up on Nissan the polar bear, who apparently was quite comfortable and ready to continue the trip.
Nissan was born at Izevesk Zoo in Russia on December 12, 2013, and will no doubt settle down well at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s Project Polar, one of the world’s largest polar bear reserves. The reserve is purpose-built and is divided into four sections which include landscaped hills, valleys, and lakes containing water up to eight meters deep.
— Ishaan Tharoor (@ishaantharoor) October 15, 2015
The polar bear is part of the European breeding program, and the wildlife reserve plays a major role in caring for polar bears who are not currently needed in the breeding program.
Marsh added that everyone at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park is happy to have Nissan there and are sure that visitors will fall in love with him once he is settled in and out and about in the reserves, totally unaware of the excitement that was caused by the asylum seekers hitching a ride with him at Calais.
[Photo courtesy of Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Nathan Rupert]