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Pittsburgh zoo mating male polar bear, 3 females

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm •  Published: March 1, 2014

"There were lines to come see him," Franke said of events held Thursday in conjunction with International Polar Bear Day.

The Pittsburgh zoo's International Polar Bear Day event is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Eric Otjen, assistant curator of mammals at SeaWorld San Diego, said the California facility will spend "in the six figures" to send its two polar bears to Pittsburgh for the breeding season. The costs include shipping the bears back and forth via FedEx. The move forced SeaWorld San Diego to close its polar bear exhibit until Szenja and Snowflake return.

"We feel the commitment is well worth it. This isn't just a way for SeaWorld or the Pittsburgh Zoo to get more bears. It's about learning how polar bears breed and how we can take what we learn from captive polar bears and apply it to real-world situations," Otjen said.

Biggs said Koda, 9, is one of 13 male polar bears in captivity across the United States that is considered a good candidate to produce offspring. Another is Koda's twin brother Nuka, who lived in Pittsburgh before moving to Detroit several years ago.

Biggs said 15 females in captivity are deemed "breedable," including the three in Pittsburgh.

This is Koda's third breeding season. Biggs said the 900-pound bear "is not proven yet, but he's acting more confident every day."