Safari park reunites animals that happily co-existed in Britain 1,000 years ago
The wolves and bears live 'harmoniously' in a new enclosure
The European brown bear was hunted to extinction in the UK 1,000 years ago and the European wolf suffered the same fate in the mid-18th century.
After careful study of their behaviour patterns, experts at the wildlife park in Bedfordshire announced yesterday that its nine North American black bears and seven Canadian timber wolves, previously kept apart, were now living harmoniously side by side.
The two species evolved together in the wild and do not compete for the same foods, nor do they attack each other. Bears are bigger and stronger, while the wolves are faster and more agile.
The bears ignore the wolves and the wolves, although curious, know that the bear is too tough an opponent to take on.
And, unlike in the wild, the animals at Woburn do not have to hunt for their food. The wolves are given deer carcasses and the bears have fruit, berries, seeds and the occasional piece of meat. Both share a love of fish.
Dr Jake Vasey, the park's animal manager, said several zoos on the Continent had already put bears and wolves together, without encountering problems, and in North American they still shared the same habitat.
"By taking this step we have been able to enlarge the area for the wolves and bears. For our visitors, we now offer the chance to see two creatures in a natural grouping.
"We have created a new reserve to produce a stimulating environment for both species, in terms of a more varied and larger terrain and also through their interaction."