KC Zoo: Beagle does not detect Berlin pregnancy - KPTV - FOX 12

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KC Zoo: Beagle does not detect Berlin pregnancy

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According to the 2-year-old canine, Berlin is not pregnant.  This comes after the zoo recently submitted feces from the polar bear to be a part of a study. According to the 2-year-old canine, Berlin is not pregnant. This comes after the zoo recently submitted feces from the polar bear to be a part of a study.
Elvis, a 2-year-old beagle, sniffs polar bear protein samples at Iron Heart Performance Dog Center in Shawnee, Kan., Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) Elvis, a 2-year-old beagle, sniffs polar bear protein samples at Iron Heart Performance Dog Center in Shawnee, Kan., Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A trained beagle named Elvis, that can sniff out pregnancies in polar bears, has indicated that the Kansas City Zoo will not be hearing the pitter-patter of little paws later this year.

According to the 2-year-old canine, Berlin is not pregnant. This comes after the zoo recently submitted feces from the polar bear to be a part of a study.

Berlin, the zoo's nearly 24-year-old female bear, and Nikita, the zoo's nearly 7-year-old male, mated this spring. Berlin came to the Kansas City Zoo in December 2012 after her Minnesota home for most of her life flooded.

Elvis checked out samples of 22 female bears from 14 zoos across the country, including samples from Nikita's younger half sisters, who are at the Columbus Zoo. Berlin's samples were taken in mid-October.

Because there is a slim chance that Berlin's hormones weren't elevated at that time enough for Elvis to detect, the Kansas City Zoo hasn't shut the door on Berlin having cubs.

Berlin is on the older side of bears in captivity while Nikita is a young bear just sexually maturing.

"Berlin has never had a cub," Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff said. "Having a cub out of her would be really important, genetically, to the captive polar bear population."

While there is no other test for polar bear pregnancy, the study is part of the research mission the Kansas City Zoo strived to be a part of. And even though Berlin is said to be not pregnant, zoo officials said they are still continuing her care as though she still may be.

Confirming pregnancies of the massive bears, a threatened species, has been difficult, and zoo officials say knowing can help make sure they and the mama bears are ready for birthing and raising cubs.

"We knew whatever the results were we would continue to keep her comfortable in her quiet behind-the-scenes area," zoo spokeswoman Julie Neemeyer said.

Polar bears can exhibit pregnancy-type behaviors even though they may not be pregnant, so the "will she or won't she?" question will continue into January. This includes increased monitoring.

Zookeepers and staff will watch Berlin's behaviors and closely monitor her appetite and her time spent in her den.

The zoo has seen big events in the past year with Berlin's arrival and the opening of the penguin exhibit. A polar bear cub birth would be great for the zoo, Wisthoff said.

"Penguins and polar bears, polar bear cubs. We'd love it. Everyone would want to come and see it," Wisthoff said.

Nikita turns 7 on Nov. 21 and the zoo is throwing him a birthday party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The zoo said if Elvis is correct, Berlin will be reintroduced to Nikita in early winter in hopes another connection occurs. They were separated this summer after Nikita's efforts to play with Berlin only proved annoying and she was showing signs that she could be pregnant.

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