Berlin, the Kansas City Zoo's new polar bear, is exploring her new home. You can watch live on KCTV5's Nikita cam.More >
Berlin, the Kansas City Zoo's new polar bear, is exploring her new home. You can watch live on KCTV5's Nikita cam. More >
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Move over, Nikita, there is a new polar bear in town.
Berlin emerged, ready to explore last week as the doors opened at the Kansas City Zoo's Polar Bear Passage.
The zoo's new 23-year-old female polar bear entered in a slow, relaxed manner, without any hurry, to a round of applause from guests as she smelled every corner of her new environment.
"She has been here for about 30 days, and we have been anticipating this moment for the last three months when it first started to become a probability," director of living collections Sean Putney said.
For Putney, having Berlin out for the first time is another step in the right direction.
"If we have some cubs here in the next couple of years, it will be even that much better," he said.
Berlin traveled from her home in Minnesota to Kansas City late last year. She and the zoo's star attraction, 6-year-old Nikita, are aware of each other's presence, but haven't met officially.
"The introductory process began as soon as she came off of the truck. Now it starts to get to a little more serious when they begin to see each other," Putney said.
As a swimmer, Berlin is just as charming as Nikita, but moves more slowly. During her first day on public display, she got close to all the smiling faces watching her, including Melissa Miller.
The Lee's Summit resident, along with her three children, was one of the first to see Berlin up close.
"I am personally excited that she is an explorer," Miller said.
For Miller's 4-year-old daughter, Zoey, it was exciting knowing that Nikita now has a female partner.
"She is pretty, and a girl like me," Zoey said.
The hope is the two bears will mate and create a baby polar bear.
"If they show continuous signs of being friendly and not aggressive, the next step would be putting them together."
There are about 70 polar bears, a threatened species, on display at American zoos, and for the Kansas City Zoo to have two of them among the 200 accredited zoos across the nation is exciting for zoo officials.
"Just getting one bear three years ago, Nikita, we were really lucky and happy to have him. But to be a part of the Species Survival Plan and to be a possible breeding place in a zoo is not very common," Putney said.
The zoo said careful observation and precautions will be taken during each step of the introduction process which could take days or weeks and maybe even months.
Berlin will be on exhibit through Monday. After that, she and Nikita will take turns on display.
Progress from behind the scenes and a display schedule will be posted on the zoo's website and Facebook.
Berlin has cleared quarantine and is now enjoying her time at the Kansas City Zoo's Polar Bear Passage. She will alternate on exhibit with Nikita until the "howdy" phase of their relationship is complete.More >
Berlin has cleared quarantine and is now enjoying her time at the Kansas City Zoo's Polar Bear Passage. She and the zoo's star attraction, 6-year-old Nikita, will alternate on exhibit until the "howdy" phase of their relationship is complete.More >