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
Labour pledges to renationalise railways and hire thousands of doctors and nurses
The party’s shadow transport secretary said the conservative’s ‘disastrous rail system’ has ‘catastrophically failed us all’
The Labour party has pledged to bring the nation’s railways back into state ownership if it wins the next general election.
Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool today, Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said putting ‘failing private operators in the hands of the public’ would ‘improve services and lower fares’.
Haigh added that the government’s ‘disastrous rail system’ has ‘catastrophically failed us all’ and turned railways into a ‘cash machine for companies and foreign governments’.
She cited the recent Avanti West Coast disruption as an example, slamming it as ‘the worst performing operator in the country’ over its long delays and service disruptions.
During its conference, the party also promised a recruitment drive for thousands more NHS doctors, nurses and midwives by reversing the Conservative party’s abolition of the 45p tax rate for top earners.
The scrapping of the 45p tax rate – which is paid for by those who earn over £150,000 a year – has received huge backlash from both Labour and Conservative MPs, many of whom say the move is only set to benefit the wealthy.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said the billions of pounds saved on reversing this cap would deliver ‘one of the biggest expansions of the NHS workforce in history’, instead of handing financial rewards to the UK’s top earners.
She announced that under Labour’s plan, the money saved would pay to double the number of district nurses qualifying every year, train 5,000 more health visitors, and create an extra 10,000 nursing and midwifery each year.
She also said that the number of medical school places would be doubled from 7,500 to 15,000 to ‘make sure that everyone who wants to train as a doctor in Britain can’.
Reeves said: “Our priority is not tax cuts for the wealthiest few – it is securing our public finances and investing in our public service.
“I can tell you: with a Labour government, those at the top will pay their fair share. The 45p top rate of income tax is coming back.”
Boy, 15, arrested after teenage boy stabbed to death outside school
He’s the second person to be arrested
A teenage boy has been arrested following the murder of a 15-year-old on Wednesday.
The suspect, also 15, was picked up by police after student Khayri McLean was stabbed to death in Huddersfield.
He has now been arrested in connection with the murder.
He’s the second person to be arrested as police investigate Khayri’s death outside his school.
West Yorkshire Police said: “Police investigating the murder of 15-year-old Khayri McLean in Huddersfield have arrested a second youth in connection with the incident.
“The 15-year-old male was arrested yesterday and is currently in custody. A 16-year-old male who was arrested yesterday also remains in custody.
“Officers from West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major enquiry team (HMET) are continuing to conduct enquiries into the death of Khayri, who died after being stabbed on Woodhouse Hill, Huddersfield, on Wednesday.”
Kwasi Kwarteng scraps cap on bankers’ bonuses in first mini-budget as Chancellor
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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng gave his first mini-budget in the House of Commons this morning.
He began by discussing the government’s plan to support people with the cost of energy, including freezing domestic bills at £2,500 and giving out the £400 rebate.
There’s also unit price limits for companies.
Kwarteng said he believes the UK needs a ‘new approach for a new era’ to achieve growth of 2.5%, saying the three important parts of his mini-budget are reforming the economy’s supply side, tax cuts and a responsible approach when it comes to public finances.
As part of this, the Chancellor announced a new bill to overhaul planning restrictions, saying this will ‘unpick the complex patchwork of planning restrictions and EU-derived laws’.
He revealed that benefit claimants will see their benefits reduced if they do not fulfil their job searching commitments.
Kwarteng also confirmed that the cap on bankers’ bonuses will be scrapped, following reports that he would make this one of his first moves.
As well as that, the planned corporation tax increase has been cancelled, and will remain at 19%, with the Chancellor also setting out a series of tax cuts for businesses.
This includes tax cuts for businesses in designated tax sites for 10 years, accelerated tax reliefs for buildings, and no business rates to pay for newly occupied business residences.