Berlin Zoo under fire over Knut

23rd July 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 July 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The Berlin Zoo came under fire Monday from an animal rights group for allowing a keeper to raise polar bear cub Knut after he was rejected by his mother.

23 July 2007

Berlin (dpa) - The Berlin Zoo came under fire Monday from an animal rights group for allowing a keeper to raise polar bear cub Knut after he was rejected by his mother.

"The socialization project has failed, Knut has become too much like a human," said Wolfgang Apel, president of the German Society for the Protection of Animals.

Speaking at the opening of an animal protection centre in the German capital, Apel said polar bears did not belong in zoos and that breeding cubs like Knut should not set an example to others.

Knut, now seven months old and weighing more than 50 kilograms, attracted worldwide attention when his keeper started raising him by bottle after his mother rejected him as a newborn on December 5.

Zoo director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz dismissed Apel's criticism, saying that raising polar bears in zoos "was one of the most important methods of breeding such an endangered species."

Apel also criticized the daily show during which Knut was shown to visitors playing with his keeper Thomas Dorflein. More than 1 million visitors watched the Knut show until it was stopped after 108 days on June 8 because the bear was getting too big to play with.

The cub was transferred to an enclosure at the rear of the pit used by the zoo's other polar bears, until complaints from visitors forced zoo officials to move him to another enclosure.

Knut is now in an enclosure formerly used by bespectacled bears, also called Andean bears, which were transferred to another zoo on the outskirts of the capital in order to make room for Knut.

Doerflein, who has become a national celebrity, still tends to the bear, but out of public sight, said Blaszkiewitz.

The zoo estimates it will have a record number of more than 3 million visitors this year, most of them driven by the desire to see Knut. Revenues from the souvenirs are expected to bring in an additional 5 million euros (6.9 million dollars)

DPA

Subject: German news

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