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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
The doors opened Thursday morning for Berlin to sniff out her new home at the Kansas City Zoo's Polar Bear Passage.
And she is exploring away.
Berlin has cleared quarantine and that means she can go on public display.
The door to Polar Bear Passage opened at 9:30 a.m. for Berlin to begin exploring, swimming and whatever else she wants to do. If you aren't at the zoo, you can watch live on the Sonic Nikita Cam on KCTV5's website at www.kctv5.com/nikita.
KCTV5 has crews at the scene. Check back later for videos and photos.
To help Berlin explore, zookeepers put out special toys out just for her. One is a barrel with her name in bright letters on it.
"Our hope is that Berlin will poke her nose out the door and start her discovery," the zoo said in a news release. "But she is an animal, and all animals can be unpredictable and cautious when stepping into a new environment. On Thursday, we will wait as long as needed to view her on the next part of her journey at the Kansas City Zoo."
They didn't have to wait long. Within minutes, she was out checking out her new home. She played with toys, ate food and took several frosty swims.
"She is a cautious explorer and has smelled every corner of her new environment," the zoo said Thursday afternoon on its homepage. "As a swimmer, she is just as charming as Nikita, but moves more slowly. Berlin got close to all the smiling faces that are watching her"
She also doesn't create the big splashes that Nikita does while swimming, as she moves more gracefully through the water.
The 23-year-old 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. Nikita noticeably became more excited and changed some of his daily mannerisms after Berlin arrived.
Nikita is at times protective of his toys after zookeepers have moved him so he may not be thrilled to share them with Berlin.
The two bears have yet to officially come "nose to nose," and that won't occur Thursday because the two bears are still in the "howdy" phase of their relationship.
"Berlin will alternate on exhibit with Nikita," the zoo said.
The schedule of the dates and times when Berlin will be on exhibit will be posted on the zoo's website and Facebook page as well as KCTV5's polar bear page.
"Nikita and Berlin will be on exhibit separately but both could be off exhibit at certain times of the day," the zoo said.
When not out and about in their public exhibit, the bears will be getting to know each other better.
"These "HOWDY' sessions begin with plenty of secure space between Nikita and Berlin so they can see and smell each other," the zoo said. "Zoo keepers will monitor and record their behaviors consulting with the zoo's animal curators, veterinarians and other polar bear experts. This collaboration will help determine when to bring the bears closer and yet still protected from direct contact, and then eventually get them nose to nose."
This meticulous process is dictated entirely by 1,500 pounds "of big, white, strong, independent and beautiful bears," and patience is required.
"Careful observation and precautions will be taken during each step of this introduction process," the zoo said. "The process could take days or weeks or maybe even months. While we hope for a quick success, it will not be rushed."
The hope is the two bears will mate and create a baby polar bear.
"In the world of animals, as well as humans, we know love is not guaranteed. All connections take dedication," the zoo said.
Read more about Nikita and Berlin and see slideshows on KCTV5's polar bear page. Click here.
Copyright2013 KCTV (MeredithCorp.) All rights reserved.
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 >>