It's a Date! North Carolina Zoo's New Polar Bear to Meet His Mate Right Around Valentine's Day
The North Carolina Zoo is hoping that love is in the air for two of its largest inhabitants.
The zoo welcomed its newest resident, a 1,000-pound, 17-year-old male polar bear named Payton, as part of its breeding efforts on Friday.
Officials are "hopeful the addition to the polar bear family will result in new offspring," according to a release.
After Payton gets a clean bill of health, he will be introduced to Anana, North Carolina Zoo's 22-year-old female polar bear. He is scheduled to meet his intended the second week of February—right around Valentine's Day.
No pressure, big guy!
Payton is replacing Nikita, the Zoo's male polar bear who arrived in 2016 but did not produce a cub with Anana after five breeding seasons. Nikita will reportedly be relocated to Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Polar bears are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Currently, there are an estimated 22,000-31,000 polar bears in the wild with their numbers projected to decline by 30% by 2050.
"Polar bear populations are declining, and zoos have a significant role in protecting the future of this vulnerable species," Jennifer Ireland, curator of mammals for the North Carolina Zoo, said in a news release. "When people see and learn more about polar bears and the effects of climate change in the Arctic, it brings awareness of their plight in the wild."
Fingers crossed for a successful pairing between these two love birds... er, bears!