Animal magic as polar bears and cats lead the way

DESPITE the best efforts of Storm Eleanor and Donald Trump to upset us, animals are doing their best to cheer us all up as 2018 gets underway.

Great news from the Highland Wildlife Park, where the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years, is believed to have made its appearance.

(I got really excited about this, in my post-festive season brain jam, and mistakenly told my children a panda cub had finally been born in Scotland. I couldn’t understand why we hadn’t been hearing about it for months in the usual Tian Tian pregnant, Tian Tian not pregnant news cycle, until I realised I’d got my animals seriously mixed up. Polar bears, pandas…not a mistake you’d want to make in the wild.)

Anyway, it is in fact Victoria the polar bear who has had a cub, in what the Royal Zoological Society is calling an “outstanding achievement which will have interest across the world”.

Everyone is keeping their fingers and paws crossed it will work out, as the first three months are perilous for polar bear cubs because of their underdeveloped immune system and the mother’s ‘exaggerated need for privacy’.

I think polar bear mums have the right idea to be honest – after giving birth, they disappear for a few months and everyone just lets them get on with it.

No endless stream of ‘helpful’ visitors telling you how tired you look, no parenting-by-committee, no ‘that’s not how your father and I did it…’ how completely fantastic does that sound?

Just you, the baby, and an endless supply of bamboo. (Or is that pandas, again? Whatever - good luck to Victoria and the cub, who will emerge around March, all going well.)

In other happy animal news, and much closer to home, Hermes the Hyndland Station cat has returned to his owners after three weeks in the wilderness.

Where did he go? What did he do? No-one knows, but after a social media campaign and the valiant efforts of commuters distraught not to see his little face on the platform every morning, he came back this week.

Even celebrities like Susan Calman, comedian, Strictly star and cat fan, took to Twitter to share her relief that he had been found.

The fact that so many people got involved in the campaign to find Hermes – who has his own Twitter handle – shows just how desperate we all are for a little bit of light relief in the midst of all the global doom and gloom.

I like to think Hermes was just doing what most of us do at Christmas time – taking a break, hiding away from the outside world, watching rubbish telly and stuffing his face with way too much lovely food and drink.

Go on, the animals, for bringing some January cheer.

Happy new year, one and all.