Utah zoo's new male polar bear to replace departing female

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah zoo will conduct a polar bear exchange when a new male arrives to replace a departing female bear.

Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City is anticipating the arrival of a 15-year-old male, which is twice the size of the 5-year-old female that will be transferred at the end of the month, KUTV-TV reports.

Hope, the female bear, is expected to be moved to an accredited zoo in the Midwest as part of a breeding program to expand the endangered species, Hogle Zoo said in a statement.

The move has been arranged through the Species Survival Plan operated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

"The SSP functions like a massive computer dating system for zoo animals, pairing up strong genetic matches with other animals in its database,” Hogle Zoo said.

The male bear named Nikita is set to be transferred from North Carolina. Twice the size of Hope, Nikita weighs between 1,200 and 1,300 pounds (544 and 590 kilograms), the zoo said.

Nikita, standing 10.5 feet tall (3.2 meters) on hind legs, is expected to remain in quarantine for 30 days for a thorough health examination.

Guests should be able to see Nikita in the early spring, the zoo said.