ASHEBORO, N.C. – The North Carolina Zoo is starting the New Year with an iconic new addition to its animal collection. Last night, Nikita, a 9-year-old male polar bear was safely relocated to Asheboro from the Kansas City (Mo.) Zoo. 

Nikita will eventually join the N.C. Zoo’s 16-year old female polar bear Anana on exhibit. First, he will be placed into the Zoo’s polar bear holding quarters so zookeepers can see how he acclimates to his new surroundings before making a decision on when he will be viewable by the public.

Nikita’s move was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan Program, which manages animal populations in zoos.

“We are honored and thrilled that our Zoo was chosen to be Nikita’s new home,” said Pat Simmons, Director of the North Carolina Zoo. “Hopefully, we can breed Anana and Nikita. Our polar bear habitat is designed to maximize the chance of breeding Nikita and Anana. Polar bears tend to breed in the winter, so Nikita’s arrival is perfect timing.”

Less than 20 percent of AZA-accredited zoos have polar bears and only 60 polar bears are on exhibit in the United States. This means that all polar bears in zoos are genetically important for the species.

“We would like to thank the staff at the Kansas City Zoo and the community in Kansas City for making Nikita’s transfer to our Zoo a smooth one. So far Nikita is adjusting well to his new home,” said Ken Reininger, animal curator at the N.C. Zoo.

Nikita was born at the Toledo Zoo. He arrived in Kansas City in 2010 when he was 3 years old. Anana, whose name means "beautiful" in Inuit, was born at the Seneca Park Zoo (Rochester, N.Y.) in November 1999. She arrived at the Lincoln Park Zoo in 2001 and was moved to the North Carolina Zoo in September 2014.

The North Carolina Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Weather pending, the Zoo is open 364 days a year, closed on Christmas, offering 500 acres of exhibits with special events year round. Please visit for more information.


About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The North Carolina Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit