Posted at: 01/17/2013 11:48 AM
Updated at: 01/18/2013 2:59 PM
By: Travis Dill
Berlin got her first chance to splash in the pool of her new exhibit on Thursday, but it is down in Kansas City, Mo.
It was a bittersweet occasion for staff at the Lake Superior Zoo. Especially for Director of Zoo Operations Peter Pruett.
“It's always mixed emotions. Of course you don't want her to be away from her home in Duluth,” Pruett said.
He said Berlin going on display in Kansas City brought out many emotions.
“It's great that she went to [Kansas City]. It eases the loss tremendously, but you're right it is still a little sad that she's gone,” Pruett said.
Staff at both zoos are hoping for a love connection between Berlin and Nikita, a male bear at the Kansas City Zoo. But Thursday was just the beginning of a long introduction.
“If it's a good positive reaction that will of course speed up the whole introduction process. If Berlin decides that Nikita is not for her, the introduction process will slow down a little bit,” Pruett said.
For safety reasons the two bears will be separated for weeks, but they will be able to see and smell each other.
“There is a significant amount of space around them in the wild, and so if on wants to leave they can. There's only finite space on an exhibit so you really have to be careful,” Pruett said.
If Berlin does get pregnant she may be away for years, but Pruett said they hope she will return to Duluth.
Staff at the Lake Superior Zoo have considered plans for a new exhibit that would keep her safe from any future flood problems.
“Also looking at moving a polar bear exhibit so we would never have to go through what we went through this summer,” Pruett said.
Berlin is a star, and even though she's shining 600 miles away, she is still beloved by many here in the Northland.
To see Berlin in Kansas City check out this webcam feed of her new exhibit. Berlin and Nikita will be rotated in and out of that exhibit.