Nikita, Berlin come nose to nose at Kansas City Zoo on Friday - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Nikita, Berlin come nose to nose at Kansas City Zoo on Friday

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Sniffing and eying each other, Nikita and Berlin were able to finally come face to face on Friday for the first time.

The Kansas City Zoo posted on its Facebook page Friday that the two polar bears are making good progress in their "Howdy" sessions. And a big accomplishment occurred Friday morning before nap time.

"For the first time, they were side-by-side," the zoo said.

A barrier separated the two massive bears.

"(They) were close enough to see eye to eye and sniff nose to nose," the zoo said. "No physical interaction occurred, in fact, after the initial grunts, posturing and deep breaths, each laid down for a nap."

The polar bears won't be allowed to have physical interaction until the staff can determine they will not be aggressive toward each other. The bears will determine how long that will take.

Berlin arrived to the zoo from Minnesota late last year. She went on public display to rave reviews last month.

Nikita is 6 years old while Berlin is 23 years old.

The two now only get to blossom their bear bond a couple hours a day. The bears are brought together from about 9:30 to 10:30 in the mornings and about 2:30 to 3:30 in the afternoons.

While they are behind the scenes, the zoo keepers clean the exhibit to freshen it up. Berlin is given free roam of the public exhibit from about 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Nikita gets to romp around his pad that he's now having to share with a cougar bear from 3:30 p.m. onward until the next morning. There is a second, behind-the-scenes area complete with pool that the bears have access to when they aren't on public display.

Zookeepers continue to monitor them as they work toward putting the two bears together with no limitations. The hope is they will mate.

"This closeness is monitored by our professional staff and will continue until it is determined they are ready for the next step. If you do not see them on exhibit they are behind the scenes saying, 'Howdy" to each other," according to the zoo's Facebook posting.

If you can't go out to the zoo this weekend, you can always watch Nikita and Berlin on the Sonic Polar Bear cam on KCTV5's website when they are on display at Polar Bear Passage. Go to www.kctv5.com/nikita to watch and see more pictures and information about Nikita and Berlin.

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