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Mar 6 08 3:14 PM
Polar Bear Winfall
Neumünster Zoo head Peter Drüwa told the German news agency DPA: "We want to try once again to resolve this with the Berliners on friendly terms."
Following a special meeting of officials from both zoos Wednesday, the zoo in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein decided to pursue an out-of-court
settlement with Berlin Zoo rather than a lawsuit.
Neumünster Zoo lent the male polar bear Lars to Berlin in 1999 to take part in a breeding program. According to the Neumünster Zoo's director, at the
time an agreement was made that, in return, it would get the firstborn bear from Lars' studding services, which turned out to be Knut.
Mar 13 08 5:06 PM
Nuremberg Zoo's celebrity polar bear cub Snowflake is growing up fast. She has now had her first bath and has even gone outside for
the first time.
Nuremberg's celebrity polar bear cub Snowflake is growing up fast -- and getting ready for her first public appearance.
Snowflake also has a new toy -- a knotted scarf.
Mar 13 08 5:07 PM
Apr 7 08 2:35 PM
Berlin Zoo's Knut has made headlines by eating 10 carp which were placed in his moat to clean it of algae. Animal welfare
campaigners are aghast at what one newspaper is calling a "carp scandal". But Knut has proven that even hand-reared polar bears are good
German celebrity polar bear Knut has swiped 10 fish out of the moat around his enclosure at Berlin Zoo and wolfed them down in an impressive display of his
Berlin Zoo had put the carp into his moat to help keep the water clean by eating algae. But the 140-kilo (309-pound) bear shocked onlookers by catching the
chubby fish and playing with his live prey until they stopped flapping. Then he gobbled them up.
Klös rejected the argument Monday. "It's a strange criticism, given how lobsters are kept in
restaurant aquariums before being killed for customers," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Yet visitors have been feeling sorry for the hand-reared bear, who has been pining for human contact (more...) ever since the zoo's management
banned keepers from going near him in February.
His latest antics have assured him of continuing media coverage even as his rival for Germany's affections, female polar bear cub Snowflake (more...), prepares to make her first public appearance in
Nuremberg Zoo on Wednesday. Nuremberg Zoo is expecting up to 25,000 visitors a day to see the four-month-old cub, who was rescued in January from her
distraught mother who kept dropping her on the rocky floor.
Apr 8 08 2:49 PM
Snowflake, who is almost four months old, came out to greet the media in her outdoor enclosure, accompanied by her keeper Stefanie Krüger.
... and Snowflake gives Stefanie Krüger's jeans a playful tug.
A team of four keepers look after the little bear.
Keeper Horst Maussner gives Snowflake a bear hug .
The little cub did not seem bothered by the assembled photographers and journalists...
Snowflake took an interest in the cameras too ...
... even standing up on her back paws in an effort to pose better... and happily romped around her enclosure. Accompanied by her keepers, she explored
her surroundings, playing with her human carers; and,
the little bear wasn't inhibited by all the attention, and happily jumped into her pool ...
... for a little swim.
Live television pictures of the bear were transmitted around the world, even as far as Japan.BACK - PHOTO 1 OF 10 - CONTINUE
Not everyone was enchanted by Snowflake's first public appearance, however. These animal rights activists were protesting about how the zoo has
treated the bear. At a press conference Tuesday ahead of Snowflake's debut, the zoo's director Dag Encke called for action against global warming which was threatening the natural habitat of polar bears.
"The greenhouse effect is literally taking away the polar bears' habitat from under their feet," the zoo's director, Dag Encke, told
reporters. "People shouldn't see Snowflake as a little teddy, but as a
Jul 16 08 4:04 PM
Sep 22 08 11:40 AM
In October 2007 Dörflein was awarded the Medal of Merit for his services to the city.
Sep 26 08 12:34 PM
People around the world are mourning the passing of Thomas Dörflein, who raised Knut the polar bear before dying suddenly on
Monday. The gate to the Berlin Zoo has become an impromptu memorial site covered with flowers, photographs and letters reminiscent of the death of Princess
Berlin is still in saddened shock after the sudden death of Thomas Dörflein, the 44-year-old zookeeper who died suddenly Monday of a heart attack. A quiet
man by nature, Dörflein was thrown into the spotlight after being chosen to raise the now-world-famous polar bear Knut by hand when the cub's mother
Berlin zookeeper Thomas Dörflein rose to worldwide fame along with his furry white charge, Knut the polar bear. News of Dörflein's sudden death
on Sept. 22, 2008 triggered an outpouring of feeling from around the world. Here, visitors leave flowers and notes in Knut's enclosure.
Happier days: Young Knut plays with Dörflein. After the polar bear cub was abandoned by his mother, the zookeeper raised him by hand. Fans fell
hard for the tiny polar bear during the daily "Knut show," during which the cub played games with Dörflein for a few hours everyday in
front of huge crowds.
The zoo also launched an online condolence book for Dörflein on their Web site on Sept. 25, 2008. A day later, there were already thousands
of posts from around the world. Visitors were also leaving stuffed polar bears, flowers and candles in front of the entrance of the zoo in
"You were our friend for too short a time," reads one of the letters taped to the zoo's entrance.
The Berlin Zoo announced Thursday they will award an annual Thomas Dörflein Prize beginning this June. The prize will award
outstanding zookeepers with a trophy and €1,000. Pictured here is a sketch of the trophy.
"Knut will go on looking for his keeper for a few days," zoo official Heiner Klös told the "Bild" daily
Wednesday. "The bear has noticed that someone is no longer there."
The entrance to the Berlin Zoo is now choked with flowers, candles and stuffed animals -- polar bears, of course. The scene resembles the flower-strewn
gates of London's Buckingham Palace in the wake of the 1997 death of Princess Diana.
"For a short time, you were a friend to us," reads one of the letters taped to the gate. Visitors have left a second heap of flowers inside the
zoo in front of Knut's enclosure.
To honor Dörflein, the Berlin Zoo has set up a Web site on which people can post their condolences. Messages are now pouring in from all over Germany and the world. By Friday
evening -- only a day after the site was launched -- it already had almost 7,000 posts. Most are from Germans, but zoo fans from countries across the globe
-- including Vietnam, the United States, Turkey, the Netherlands, Sweden and France -- have also posted messages.
"I didn't know him personally," wrote Ellen Ertelt. "But the loving way he treated Knut and probably all animals was really
The zoo has also set up a prize for outstanding zookeepers in Dörflein's honor. The first Thomas Dörflein Prize, which will carry a €1,000 ($1,460)
purse as well as a trophy, will be awarded this June. When Knut was born in
December 2006, he was abandoned by his mother. After his brother died four days later, the zoo decided to hand raise the cub, and Dörflein was assigned
the job. The two quickly developed a very close bond, and their interaction became a zoo draw in its own right. Huge crowds of fans fell for the tiny polar
bear during the daily "Knut show,"when the two would
frolick around the bear's enclosure. Some visitors came to love Dörflein, too, an offbeat sex symbol with a bushy beard and ponytail.
"I have a pile of love letters from around the world on my desk. They're even sending me poems and songs they've written about me,"
Dörflein once told Berlin dailyDer Tagesspiegel. "It happens at least 20 times a day: I'll be walking somewhere, and people will shout
According to his colleagues, Dörflein was somewhat bewildered by all the attention. On Thursday, Zoo director Bernhard Blaskiewitz saluted Dörflein for
remaining a "humble and modest man" despite global fame.
"Whether he wanted to or not, Thomas Dörflein made Berlin history in successfully raising Knut," Mayor Klaus Wowereit said in a message of
condolence to Dörflein's mother. "Thomas Dörflein stole the hearts of Berliners and people from all over the world."
And it's not just people who are missing Dörflein. "Knut will go on looking for
his keeper for a few days," zoo official Heiner Klös told the tabloid newspaper Bild on Wednesday. "The bear has noticed that someone is no longer there."
rbn -- with wire reports
Oct 14 08 2:20 PM
When 44-year-old zookeeper Thomas Dörflein died suddenly of a heart attack in September, the world responded with shock and grief. Dörflein was
famous for raising baby polar bear Knut by hand at the Berlin Zoo.
"Thomas, the angels are waiting for you," reads one ribbon.
Nov 3 08 10:56 AM
Dec 3 08 5:08 PM
By David Crossland
Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (21 Photos)
Berlin newspapers reported this week that Berlin Zoo wasn't prepared to build a third polar bear enclosure which would be necessary to keep Knut in the
Knut's owner, Neumünster Zoo in northern Germany, has a say in where Knut will end up and its director Peter Drüwa told German news agency DPA on
Monday: "Knut will spend Christmas in Berlin, but I'm not so sure he'll spend Easter there."
Neumünster has rights to Knut because his father Lars originated from there. "We will decide where Knut will go," said Drüwa. One report said Knut
might end up at a Swedish zoo.
Knut's departure would rob Berlin of a well-established attraction. "Berlin won't just be losing one of its best ambassadors but will also be
losing a symbol, much to the regret of many international visitors," said Christian Tänzler, spokesman for the city's tourist board.
Sudden Lack of Attention
Klös said Berlin Zoo won't be marking Knut's second birthday on Dec. 5 even though fans from around Europe and even the United States are coming to
Berlin for the occasion.
There's speculation Knut will be bidding farewell to Berlin next year.
As a small cub Knut had a knack for entertaining the crowds as he played ball with his keepers, went swimming in his moat and hid under a blanket.
He earned the zoo around €5 million by attracting around 500,000 extra visitors and spawning merchandise ranging from cuddly toys to Knut-shaped
He now weighs more than 200 kilos and is decidedly less cute, but still attracts visitors. His behavior suggests that he craves human attention, and
it's noticeable how often he stands on his hind paws and raises his front ones, apparently copying the gestures of visitors photographing him.
Knut the Healer
"He means a lot to many people. When you're with him you forget your problems for a little while," Hartmut Wiedenroth, the co-founder of
"Knut Forever in Berlin," a campaign to keep him in the capital, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
"People who were ill have told me how Knut helped them pull themselves together," said Wiedenroth, who visits Knut every weekend in the winter and
more often in the summer.
"It's unbelievable that they're not throwing a party for Knut," he said. "More than 100 people are coming from all over Europe and
even the US just to see this bear who has done so much for Berlin."
Another reason for Knut to remain in Berlin was to preserve the legacy of Thomas Dörflein, the devoted zookeeper who reared him with round-the-clock care and who died suddenly of a heart attack aged 44 in
September, said Wiedenroth. "Those two were a dream team and must never be forgotten."
Dec 6 08 4:48 AM
While Berlin's superstar polar bear celebrates the end of his second year of life, many worry that his time in the city may
be approaching its end.
There is something bittersweet, perhaps even elegiac, about the idea of celebrating Knut's second birthday at a time when rumors are flying that the Berlin Zoo's most famous
occupant will soon be deported to an undisclosed location -- perhaps in Sweden. Perhaps this is the reason that the zoo had originally declined to plan any
festivities at all, before caving to a well-organized international campaign that collected thousands of signatures.
Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (10 Photos)
Later on, Knut further delighted his worshippers by feasting on an ice cake.
cpg -- with wire reports
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