Polar Bears Reunited at the North Carolina Zoo


The North Carolina Zoo's two polar bears, Nikita (far left) and Anana, are sharing habitat space for breeding season.

Photos by Myra Wright

February is the season of love, and North Carolina Zoo’s two polar bears, Nikita and Anana, were recently reunited just in time for Valentine's Day. Adult polar bears prefer solitary lives, so Nikita and Anana are typically kept separate. However, the pair is now sharing habitat space for breeding season, so zoo visitors will have the unique opportunity to see them in the same space. Zoo officials hope that this year's breeding season will result in a cub.

Nikita, who arrived at the North Carolina Zoo in January 2016 from the Kansas City Zoo, is 10 years old and weighs 1,203 pounds. Anana, who is 796 pounds, is 17 years old and has been at the zoo since September 2014 when she arrived from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. 

The North Carolina Zoo is one of only a handful of zoos with the opportunity to breed this threatened species. In fact, there are only 65 polar bears at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and only 30 of those bears are at reproduction age.

Zoo visitors are often curious about how Nikita and Anana fare during the warm weather months, especially in North Carolina’s scorching 90-degree summer heat. However, polar bears have an amazing skill for adapting to a variety of climates. At the North Carolina Zoo, zoo keepers provide many opportunities for the polar bears to stay cool with a 55-degree swimming pool, air-conditioned evening quarters and beds of ice in which to roll. 

Despite their adaptability, polar bears are threatened by climate change. The bears need sea ice to hunt prey, and less and less ice is available each year.

One easy way you can help is by participating in the Thermostat Challenge to consume less energy. To learn more about the challenge and how you can celebrate International Polar Bear Day on Feb. 27, visit the Polar Bears International website.

For more information about Nikita and Anana, visit nczoo.org.

Anana (above, right) is a 17-year-old female, and Nikita (below) is the North Carolina Zoo's 10-year-old male polar bear.



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