DULUTH - Berlin, the Lake Superior Zoo's polar bear, will be moving to the Kansas City Zoo from the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in mid-December.
She will be paired with Nikita, a six year old male polar bear, as a potential breeding partner due to a Polar Bear Species Survival Program recommendation.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan manages breeding to ensure genetic diversity within a species population in accredited institutions.
Lake Superior Zoo Director of Zoo Operations Peter Pruett expressed that one of the important aspects of being an AZA-accredited institution is the ability to take part in programs like the Species Survival Plan.
The polar bear population is declining in the wild so this is a great opportunity for Berlin to be part of the survival of her species.
Berlin will be turning 23 years old in December and although she is considered to be older, polar bears can live until their mid 30s in captivity.
Lake Superior Zoo staff are excited about the recommendation and have high hopes that it will be successful.
2013 will be the start of new possibilities for both bear and zoo.
Zoo officials are not certain if Berlin will return to Duluth, but if she does they hope they can welcome her with a new and safe place to live.
Zoo staff and partners are working with ELM, an architectural consulting firm, on finalizing conceptual plans for a new polar bear facility out of the flood plain.
"This is a combination of good and sad news," said Pruett, "We are glad that she is healthy and has the potential to have cubs but we are also sad that she will be farther away." said Pruett.
Visitors can help the Lake Superior Zoo celebrate Berlin's Birthday and wish her and Nikita luck with their love connection on Saturday, December 8th from 10 am – 2 pm.
The Como Zoo will also be throwing Berlin a birthday and bon voyage bash this weekend.