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Press Release: Bonn, Germany 08/05/2018

  • Group of four bears to their new home 9,000 km away
  • Variety of temperature-control measures, including 10°C trucks, kept the bears from climate-related stress throughout the journey

Four of Hokkaido’s endangered Ussuri brown bears - Riku, Kai, Hanako and Amu - have safely migrated to their new home in the United Kingdom’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park, transported with utmost care during the 9,000km journey by DHL Global Forwarding, the leading international provider of air, sea and road freight services.

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.

Each Ussuri brown bear can weigh up to 550kg and requires temperatures to be maintained as closely as possible to their native climate in northern Japan and Korea.[1] As such, purpose-built crates that could fit into the aircraft were produced for each of the bears to ensure they were comfortable throughout the trip.

Moving from Hokkaido, the bears’ 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. A veterinarian and an animal handler travelled alongside the precious cargo, as maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for the bears was of paramount importance.

“Any shipment of live animals, particularly those with such unique needs as the Ussuri brown bears, requires extensive planning and collaboration between various parties,” said Charles Kaufmann, President/Representative Director – Japan K.K and CEO, North Asia, DHL Global Forwarding. “We’re proud to be able to play a critical role in bringing to bear our full set of competencies, from rapid multimodal freight to customs clearance of sensitive cargos, in relocating these four magnificent creatures to their new world-class home, along with the team at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Having our own offices at both the New Chitose and Haneda airports, as well as a dedicated temperature-controlled 10-ton truck required for this project, enabled us to provide an ideal solution for this intricate operation.”

DHL Global Forwarding worked closely with the Park to plan and orchestrate the complex voyage, optimizing and customizing 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. 

The bears, ranging from 17 to 27 years old, 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.[2] The park and its Foundation support conservation and welfare projects all around the world - from the critically endangered Amur leopard in Russia, the black rhino in East Africa to the lemurs of Madagascar.

“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.”