BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo Zoo's polar bears had their first "official" date Saturday -- a date which the public was invited to.
Zoo attendees watched in awe as the massive bears played and enjoyed special enrichment in recognition of Valentines Day.
The Buffalo Zoo's primary keeper, Caitlyn Bruce, said it's a slow process to introduce two large carnivores like polar bears and it is also a risky business.
"Even animals that seem like they are getting along pretty well... you have two large carnivores, so there is no room for error there," she said. She explained the two were introduced through a barrier before getting to physically interact.
Luckily, the Buffalo Zoo's polar bears seem to be getting along remarkably well, Bruce says.
"From the second we opened up that door, they have been great together," she said. "They absolutely love being with each other. The only other time we ever try to separate them is during feeding time to make sure everyone gets their fair share. Surprisingly, Luna would probably take all the food even though she's about twice the size of Sakari and a little bit pushy -- apparently he knows his place when it comes to relationships," she said with a laugh.
Bruce also said as soon as feeding time is over, Luna and Sakari are excited to get back together.
The Buffalo Zoo hopes Luna and Sakari will mate in the future to help continue their species. Sakari came to the zoo in November as part of the American Zoo Association's (AZA)'s Specials Survival Plan (SSP) to help preserve polar bears, a vulnerable species in danger of going extinct.
The event Saturday is part of the Buffalo Zoo's "Arctic Awareness Month" that runs throughout February.
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