In effort to preserve species, polar bear Nikita leaving Kansas City Zoo for North Carolina

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In a few months, there will only be one polar bear at the Kansas City Zoo. Nikita is heading to North Carolina, but not before families get a chance for one last glimpse at an animal that helped change the look of the zoo.

All eyes are bound to be on Nikita, the eight-year-old polar bear, until his departure this winter.

"He was back treading and it was just so cute. He would dive up,” said Lyndie Heavin, who loves the polar bear exhibit.

The only attention Nikita can’t command is Berlin’s, his much older partner. They’re polar opposites. She’s at the end of her reproductive cycle and he’s still in his prime.

“He’s 1,200 pounds, she’s a little over 500. Every time he comes around, she backs off a little bit,” said Randy Wisthoff, the zoo’s executive director.

The love connection just isn’t there, but he’s got another shot. Nikita is heading to North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro to mate with 15-year-old Anana. Only 60 polar bears are on exhibit in the United States. That’s why this move is so important -- to preserve the species.

Nikita will make the long journey during the winter in late December or early January. He will be transported in a refrigerated semi-truck.

The zoo also announced that it will gain a pair of koalas summer of 2016.