The first set of Andean bear twins ever born in the UK have emerged from their den at Chester Zoo for the first time.
The cubs were born in January and have spent the first six months of their life cuddled up with their eight-year-old mum, Lima, but have now finally ventured out to explore.
The rare twin cubs have been spotted enjoying ‘friendly rough and tumble’, including attempts at climbing trees.
Chester Zoo – which reopened around three months ago after the country backed a huge petition – has named the cubs Pacha (female) and Mateo (male) and hailed the birth of the cubs ‘very, very special’.
Lucy Edwards, Chester Zoo’s assistant team manager of carnivores, said: “Andean bears are incredibly shy animals and, for this reason, are still something of mystery to conservationists.
“So to see mum Lima allowing her two little cubs to explore so freely and enjoy a bit of friendly rough and tumble is just wonderful – it’s very, very special.
“The twin cubs are so full of energy and their playful personalities are really starting to show – it looks like they will be keeping mum very busy.
“Just a few weeks ago, while the zoo was closed, a small team of keepers and vets managed to give the cubs a quick check over and we’re very happy to report that both were given a clean bill of health.
“It’s great that we can now safely welcome back visitors and they can learn more about Andean bears and see the twins for themselves – an incredibly rare sight, even for conservationists studying them day in, day out in the field.”
The species – made popular by the children’s character Paddington Bear – is estimated to have fewer than 10,000 remaining in the wild.
Andean Bears, like Paddington, are found in South America, in Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.
They are currently listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Lucy added: “Mum Lima is doing an incredible job caring for her new cubs and they seem to be really thriving under her watchful eye.
“Her new arrivals are vital additions to the endangered species breeding programme, which is working to preserve the species, help conservationists to learn more about them and, ultimately, protect the long-term future of these beautiful bears.
“Alongside this important work in the zoo, our conservationists have also been working in Bolivia, alongside our partners the local NGO PROMETA and the University of Oxford, to understand how Andean bears live in the wild.
“Together, we are striving to find new ways to prevent conflict between bears and humans – a key threat to this species. The project is the first of its kind in the region and aims to have bears and humans living side by side in harmony.”
In South America, Andean bears share their habitat with the poorest and most vulnerable communities on the continent, an area which is being severely challenged by climate change.
The bears sadly pose a threat to crops and livestock which is dwindling their natural habitat. Experts suggest that more than 30% of forests in South America have disappeared in the last 20 years due to mass-scale deforestation and climate change.
The cubs were born on January 10, 2020 with mum Lima born on January 12, 2012 and dad Bernie born on January 14, 2010
Government could pay overweight people to exercise as part of new scheme to tackle obesity
The UK ranks fourth in the world for its obesity rate
In efforts to reduce the UK’s obesity levels, the government could start paying overweight people to exercise and help them lose weight.
The UK ranks fourth in the world for its obesity rate with 63% of adults in England and one in three children starting secondary school are classed as overweight or obese. Health officials want to drive down these numbers.
With help from Sir Keith Mills – who founded the Nectar customer loyalty programme – ministers are set to receive advise on incentives and rewards that could be used to help create healthier diets and encourage people to become more physically active.
They will also look at successful schemes from around the world including the step challenge in Singapore.
The step challenge encouraged people to walk as they gained more ‘health points’ which eventually turned into money from the government.
Sir Keith could recommend the government roll out this type of scheme in the UK, as part of the new scheme to tackle obesity.
The government has announced a £100m package to help fight obesity with over 70m going towards weight management services in the NHS and councils.
This could mean up to 700,000 adults have access to courses such as Weight Watchers and Slimming World to help keep track of their diets and have regular weigh-ins.
A further £30m could be used on other initiatives such as the Better Health campaign that gives tips on weightloss and exercise through an NHS app.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the drive to tackle obesity has become even more urgent once it emerged that being overweight can increase people’s chances of becoming seriously ill or being admitted to hospital with the virus.
The World Obesity Federation analysed coronavirus death figures and found that in countries where more than half the population are overweight, deaths are ten times higher. The UK ranked among the worst countries.
The WOF explains that hundreds of thousands of deaths could have been avoided if countries had done more to reduce obesity in their populations.
After prime minister Boris Johnson was hospitalised after contracting the virus in April last year, he started openly speaking about his efforts to lose weight.
The Prime Minister said: “Losing weight is hard, but making small changes can make a big difference. If we all do our bit, we can reduce our own health risks – but also help take pressure off the NHS.
“This funding will give extra support to people across the country who want to lose weight too.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “The urgency of tackling obesity has been brought to the fore by evidence of the link to an increased risk from Covid-19, so it’s vital we take action on obesity to protect the NHS and improve our nation’s health.”
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “Living with obesity can have a devastating impact on people’s health and wellbeing in so many ways, not least its link this year to the increased risk from Covid.
“This investment will greatly boost services for adults struggling with their weight and raising the profile of our Better Health campaign will help to support more people to make healthier choices.”
Liam Gallagher has brutal message for the government over the proposed 1% NHS pay rise
He didn’t hold back
Liam Gallagher has taken to Twitter to give his opinion on the NHS pay row.
The outspoken singer has weighed in on the proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff this year.
It comes after health secretary Matt Hancock described the country’s finances as ‘tight’, leaving nurses across the country – who have played a vital role throughout the pandemic – angered.
Liam kept things simple, tweeting: “Give the NHS and care workers a proper pay rise you wankers LG x”
One follower said: “Our NHS has been our front line in this battle with covid and we’ve done what? Clapped? Cracking. That makes it worthwhile.”
A second added: “Thanks Liam I’m an NHS worker and it’s gutting this 1% that is being offered.”
Matt Hancock was faced with a question from a nurse during yesterday’s press conference, wondering how the government would have coped without nurses throughout the pandemic.
In response he said: “It’s an incredibly important point that we need more nurses – not just the nurses that we have now – and we have a clear manifesto commitment to 50,000 more nurses in the NHS, and I am delighted that there are more than 10,000 more nurses that have joined the NHS over the last 12 months.
“Also we have seen an increase of 34%, so more than a third, in the number of applications to nursing.
“And of course over the past three years nurses have had a 12% pay rise.
“The challenge is that the nation’s finances are tight and whilst everyone else is going to get a pay freeze we are able to propose a pay rise for nurses of 1%.
“I appreciate that that reflects the difficult financial circumstances that the country is in.
“What I would say to every nurse who is watching and everybody that is working so hard is we have over this pandemic pulled together in an incredible way and I hope we can continue to do that to deliver for patients and also to support our NHS and welcome many, many more nurses into the NHS in the years ahead.”
The Royal College of Nursing has put together a £35m fund that can be used to help compensate nurses if they strike following the low pay offer.
Members of the public are being asked to take part in a mass ‘slow clap’ for nurses on Thursday at 8pm, to mock the governments’ previous clap for the NHS campaign.
Mental health nurse fined £10,000 after organising protest over ‘offensive’ NHS 1% pay rise
The nurse who organised a protest in Manchester city centre yesterday about the ‘offensive’ 1% pay rise for NHS workers will be fined £10,000.
Mental health worker and Unison rep, Karen Reissmann attended the demonstration in St Peter’s Square on Sunday at midday.
Attendees were wearing masks and cones were marked on the floor to help everyone maintain social distancing.
However, Karen, aged 61, was spoken to before the protest could go ahead by officers from Greater Manchester Police.
Officers explained that due to the current Covid-19 restrictions the protest would be illegal.
Karen explained that the protest would have to end to those in attendance and the gathering dispersed.
Once the crowd had dispersed, Karen spoke to officers on the edge of St Peter’s Square and was told she would be handed the £10,000 fine.
A 65-year-old woman who stayed with Karen was arrested for ‘failing to provide details having refused the opportunity to leave when asked’. She was later de-arrested after providing details and was given a £200 fine.
Around 40 people attended the gathering according to a statement released by GMP on Sunday afternoon. They added that officers engaged early ‘using the first of the four Es approach – engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance with legislation.’
Supt, Caroline Hemingway said: “With the positive step of schools reopening tomorrow, it is vital that people continue to follow Government legislation on social distancing and avoid gathering illegally in large numbers.
“Regardless of one’s sympathies for a protest’s cause, we would ask the public to maintain social distancing and follow legislation to prevent a rise in infections and provide the best possible chance of a further easing of restrictions in the weeks to come.
“We sought to engage with and peaceably disperse those attending this afternoon’s protest, explaining that the gathering was in contravention of Government lockdown rules.
“Unfortunately officers were met with a degree of non-compliance and it was therefore necessary to enforce issue FPNs.”
Speaking to the crowd, Karen said: “Unfortunately the police have told us we can’t proceed with this despite what’s going on in the health service.
“We’ve been told we will not be able to go ahead with this, I’ll be fined and reported to my employer and disciplined and people here will be fined as well, so we will therefore be shutting it down.
“I think we’ve made the point we wanted to make, we sent a message to the government. I think it’s outrageous that somehow this is deemed illegal when the size of the crowd here will be ten times bigger in hundreds and thousands of schools tomorrow morning.
“This isn’t about safety, this is about the government trying to stamp down on protest which I think is a dying shame. The health service will lose out.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Karen pay the fine.