Wildwood Trust, near Ottery St Mary, has successfully rescued Diego, a brown bear from being put down after his home in Sweden was due to close.

Despite the challenge posed by Storm Ciaran, Diego safely arrived at Wildwood, Ottery St Mary, on the evening of November 2.

Diego will stay at Wildwood’s Devon park over winter before heading to his forever home at Jimmy’s Farm and Wildlife Park, based in Suffolk, in the spring.

Diego has been rescued by Wildwood Trust, working with Jimmy’s Farm and Wildlife Park. Jimmy’s Farm was made aware of Diego’s plight when they stepped in to rescue two polar bears from the Swedish zoo.

Diego’s arrival heralds a lifeline for the brown bear. All three bears, including Diego, were facing certain euthanasia before conservationist Jimmy Doherty put the rescue plans in place. Without an enclosure ready for Diego, Jimmy’s Farm called on Wildwood to help.

Wildwood Trust, renowned for its expertise in rewilding and conserving native wildlife, promptly agreed to offer Diego a temporary refuge.

Mark Habben, Wildwood Trust’s director of zoo operations said:  “We’re really excited to be working with Jimmy’s Farm to save the life of Diego, a bear whose Zoological home is closing down and he had no other options. We’ve managed to intervene between us and we are delighted to be able to hold this bear for the duration of his torpor.

"Plans to bring Diego over by ferry were amended in light of the impending storm. Instead, Diego made a secure and timely journey via train, through LeShuttle.. Orsa Predator Park is due to close imminently to make room for a leisure facility and staff at Orsa have been ordered to euthanise any animals left behind.

Wildwood Trust has gained global recognition for its rehabilitation of brown bears. Its Wildwood Devon site already houses two orphaned brown bears, Lucy and Mish, who narrowly escaped death after being discovered abandoned by their parents in Albania in April 2019. Wildwood Devon's expertise in spacious enclosures allowed them to establish a permanent woodland sanctuary for the pair.

Diego is expected to go into torpor, a natural bear behaviour in which bears sleep deeply for weeks or months with only short periods of activity in between. Wildwood is one of the few wildlife parks in the UK to encourage this natural behaviour, ensuring Diego's well-being and comfort during the winter months.

Conservationist, TV Presenter and Founder of Jimmy's Farm and Wildlife Park, Jimmy Doherty said: "Wildwood Trust are experts in their field so I am delighted Diego will spend his torpor there over the winter period. It is a great environment for him and allows us to complete essential work of his future home at Jimmy’s Farm."

"Diego's journey from Sweden will be featured in an upcoming documentary produced by Jimmy and his team, showcasing the dedicated efforts of Jimmy's Farm to rescue bears from the Orsa Predator Park. The documentary will be airing soon."