Utah’s Hogle Zoo introduces new polar bear Nikita

Nikita. Photo Courtesy: Utah's Hogle Zoo

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 14, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah’s Hogle Zoo is introducing its newest polar bear, Nikita.

The 14-year-old male polar bear, from North Carolina Zoo, has been getting acquainted with his animal care team and adjusting to his new surroundings, said a Hogle Zoo news release.

Weighing in at over 1,000 pounds, Nikita stands 10-and-a-half-feet tall on his hind legs — twice the size of zoo’s last pair of females.

“Nikita has been a very enjoyable addition to Rocky Shores,” said keeper Michelle Hanenburg. “He is very eager to train and work with keepers, and really enjoys the opportunity to learn and interact.”

Hanenburg also mentioned he loves playing with things that are easy to carry and pounce on. “He loves carrying his favorite toys to his preferred napping areas and will curl up and cuddle at night with a favorite toy.”

The public can also visit Nikita beginning on Thursday. “We do want to make sure our guests know that Nik will have the option of being out in his exhibit space or going into the back area,” said community relations manager, Erica Hansen. “This is important for Nik’s health while he adjusts.”

Hansen notes guests should plan some flexibility during visits. “If he’s not out when you first stop by, go visit the grizzlies or big cats and then come back. We know the community is excited to meet him but we also want to make sure he’s as comfortable as possible.”

Hogle Zoo recently said farewell to both its previous female polar bears, Hope and Nora. Hope went to Brookfield Zoo in Chicago to participate in their breeding program. Nora went back to Oregon Zoo which just opened its brand new Polar Passage exhibit.

Utah’s Hogle Zoo, in partnership with Polar Bears International, has contributed both funding and staff support to ensure the survival and preservation of this critically endangered species, the news release said. For more information on PBI or the zoo’s work to help save polar bears in the wild, click here.


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