Opinion: the biggest news story in Scotland

When Paul asked me to write this blog post I was so chuffed to be asked, but, given we are in the middle of the Scottish Parliamentary elections, I was also really worried about being able to find the time to write it.

However, I have found the time and here it is. It may not be what you are expecting.

There is a massive story doing the rounds in Scotland and it is not about the election but about the tragic death of Mercedes the polar bear.

Edinburgh Zoo broke the news this morning;

“Given the high profile that Mercedes the polar bear has had both in Scotland and internationally, we felt that her many admirers deserved to be informed that it was with a great deal of sadness that early this morning, April 15 2011, Mercedes was put painlessly to sleep due to age related health problems and a rapid deterioration in her welfare.”

Mercedes, was the UK’s only polar bear and was moved from her home in Edinburgh Zoo to her new home at the Highland Wildlife Park, near Kingussie in 2009.

Prior to this move, Mercedes had been in Edinburgh Zoo for 25 years. She had been rescued from her native country, Canada after she was due to be shot. Unfortunately for Mercedes she had begun roaming into town in search of food as she became hungry and, as polar bears are dangerous animals, this behaviour had to be discouraged.

Polar BearMercedes was captured and the number ‘39’ was painted on her coat which then allowed her to be tracked. On her third visit into the town the decision was made to shoot her. Luckily for her and us, she was rescued and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland offered her a home here at Edinburgh Zoo back in 1984.

She spent 25 happy years there before moving to her final home.

On our many visits to Edinburgh Zoo we enjoyed watching Mercedes and she will be sorely missed.

Andrew Reeves blogs at Andrew Running. Thanks to Geeky Pete for the photo, reproduced here under the creative commons licence.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • She was 30 – way beyond her natural lifespan in the wild, and good even for captivity.

    So can her death be described as tragic?

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