EFESao Paulo

Aurora and Peregrino, two polar bears from Russia, arrived in Brazil last December and this week will become the first of their species to be presented to the public in this South American country.

Born in frigid Russia, the bears arrived during the Southern Hemisphere summer at the Sao Paulo Aquarium, Latin America's largest. They were presented to members of the media on Tuesday and will make their debut before the Brazilian public on Thursday.

Despite the countries' sharply different climates, Aurora and Peregrino, who weigh a combined 730 kilos (1,608 pounds), have adapted easily to their new home, a 1,500-sq-meter (16,125-sq.-foot) space with temperatures ranging from between -5 C and 15 C (between 5 F and 59 F).

Until December, the polar bears lived at a zoo in the Russian city of Kazan, but experts said the space was too small for them to develop normally.

After two years of negotiations, a decision therefore was made to transfer the large mammals to Sao Paulo by plane at a cost of $22,000, part of a conservation and reproduction project that is starting to yield results.

The four-year-old Aurora and the five-year-old Peregrino recently mated after four months in Brazil, and it is possible that the female is pregnant.

That hypothesis will be verified in the coming weeks by evaluating Aurora's behavior and weight, a veterinarian at the Sao Paulo Aquarium, Laura Reisfeld, told Efe.

For his part, an expert at the zoo in Kazan, Ivan Ezhov, said he was very pleased with the facilities and the expertise of the staff at the Sao Paulo Acquarium.

"We really liked what we saw. The work of the specialists, the facility ... It was wonderful, one of the best we've seen. The facility is better than the one in Kazan," Ezhov told Efe.

The public debut of Aurora and Peregrino - to be presented along with six kangaroos and 13 meerkats - marks a new era for the aquarium, which recently underwent an expansion that will also be unveiled on Thursday.