Berlin the polar bear makes public debut at Kansas City Zoo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Zoo's newest tenant made her public debut Thursday, and zoo officials hope it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Berlin, a 23-year-old polar bear from the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minn., was brought to the Kansas City Zoo to serve as a mate for 6-year-old Nikita, who has called Kansas City home since 2009.

After spending the typical 30 days in quarantine, Berlin was introduced to her new habitat on Thursday morning as curious onlookers watched her swim and roam the zoo's Polar Bear Passage.

PHOTOS | Berlin's first day on the prowl http://bit.ly/WaPx1h

But this won't be love at first sight. This romantic connection is going to take some time.

Before they can welcome each other's warm embrace, Berlin and Nikita must go through an undetermined amount of "Howdy" time. That's when the two can smell and see each other, but secure space between the two bears will not allow them close to one another.

The length of this unusual introductory process will be determined entirely by the bears.

Zoo Keepers will monitor and record their behaviors consulting with the Zoo's Animal Curators, Veterinarians and other polar bear experts to find out when they can get nose-to-nose.

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