More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Celebrity polar bear's 1st birthday draws crowds to Berlin Zoo
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
CBC News

Thousands of people flocked to the Berlin Zoo Wednesday to mark the first birthday of Knut, the polar bear who captivated Germany and spawned books, television shows and trinkets.


Knut nibbles on a wooden candle on his birthday cake at the Berlin Zoo on Wednesday. Berlin's famous polar bear was rejected by his mother but went on to win the hearts of millions around the globe.
(Miguel Villagran/Associated Press)​
The zoo, which pulled out all the stops to celebrate, allowed children in free and sold slices of a giant marzipan birthday cake, giving proceeds to the zoo's foundation.

Knut raced out of his cave after his handler, Thomas Doerflein, brought out a cake made with fish, fruit, vegetables and rice. Resting on a bed of lettuce, the cake was topped with a candle-shaped rolling pin, which Knut gnawed on after he ate the cake.

Crowds four or five rows deep lined his enclosure, snapping photographs as Knut stood on his hind legs licking his paws. He later laid down and ignored all the fuss.

Rejected by his mother at birth, Knut has grown from an 800-gram ball of white fluff to a 100-kilogram bear with a penchant for muddying his coat by rolling in the dirt.

Canada also cashed in on his popularity Wednesday, holding a raffle at the zoo for a free trip to Churchill, Man., the town that calls itself the polar bear capital of the world.

Knut, who has generated more than $14 million for the zoo from increased visitors, toys, books and other trinkets, could be spending his final days at the Berlin Zoo. Officials there want him to mate, but will likely have to move him because the females at Berlin's two zoos are considered too old.


Zookeeper Andreas Doerflein and Knut play in an open-air enclosure at the zoo in June.
(Jan Bauer/Associated Press)​
Doerflein told Germany's Bild newspaper on Wednesday that he hopes the bear will soon find a new home.

"A spacious enclosure. A female partner. At some point, Knut needs to leave me," Doerflein said.

Knut will likely have new half-siblings in the new year, however, as his father has mated with the three females at the zoo.

Abandoned at birth, along with a twin brother who only survived a couple of days, Knut first attracted attention when Berlin's media picked up the story of his main caregiver camping out at the zoo to give the cub his bottle every two hours.

The story angered animal rights activists, who tried to sue the zoo for cruelty to animals by preventing nature from taking its course when the cub was rejected ? even if it would cost him his life.
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