How Nikita will get from KC to North Carolina Zoo - KCTV5

How Nikita will get from KC to North Carolina Zoo

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Kansas City is preparing to say goodbye to Nikita, the crowd pleasing polar bear who tried but couldn't make a love connection with Berlin at the Kansas City Zoo.

This winter Nikita will be leaving his KC mate, 26-year-old female Berlin. He'll be moved to a brand new home at the North Carolina Zoo to give love another shot with 15-year-old female polar bear Anana.

“They are really cool animals and they are super big,” said Alicia Wiegand.

Nikita is a favorite among those visiting the zoo. Visitors long and old alike love watching him play with large barrels and do back flips off the glass wall, but soon he'll be hitting the road.

“Nikita, we are going to be packing his little bear bag. He's got to go to North Carolina,” said Kansas City Zoo CEO/Executive Director Randy Wisthoff.

He's headed there to hopefully make polar bear babies.

Moving 1,200 pounds of polar bear is no easy feat.

"We'll keep it very frigid," Wisthoff said.

An animal hauling company will use a special semi-truck that will be kept a cool 32 to 34 degrees. Nikita will be tranquilized to be loaded up and then he will ride inside the truck in a polar bear sized cage.

“They'll probably travel non-stop. We'll have a truck with two drivers. We'll have a chase vehicle with a couple drivers and a vet there,” Wisthoff said.

There will still be chances to see Nikita before his big move. The zoo is throwing a ninth birthday party/bon voyage party for him in November.

Right now in North America there are only 60 polar bears on display at accredited zoos. And over the last three years only three polar bear cubs were born in zoos in North America.

At the Kansas City Zoo, Nikita and Berlin have had a hot and cold relationship. When KCTV5 visited Thursday, Nikita tossed a big barrel at Berlin who was in the water. 

She let out a loud roar to let him know how she felt about it. He returned the favor by belly flopping near her.

“If we are going to have polar bears in zoos in North America, we have got to make baby bears,” Wisthoff said.

Nikita will soon get another shot at love with female polar bear Anana.

“It's time for her to have babies. It's time for Nikita to make babies,” Wisthoff said.

You can support polar bears at the zoo keeper initiated, Putt and Play for Polar Bears on Saturday at Paradise Park and check out the Barrels for Bears campaign. Barrels are one of Nikita's favorite enrichment items. Many guests have heard his stomping, bouncing and crushing of the barrels all the way in the Zoo's parking lots.

While Nikita will be leaving, the zoo says they will add a pair of Koala bears. They will spend the summer at the zoo and, in return, money will be donated to San Diego Zoo's Koala Education & Conservation Program.

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