German polar bear cub is to be called Flake
The country's latest animal obsession is named after an international naming contest closes.
Nuremberg, Germany (dpa) - A female polar bear cub that has become Germany's latest animal attraction has been named Flocke, or "flake" as in snow flake, officials in the southern city of Nuremberg Friday.
Nearly 30,000 suggestions poured in to the town hall during a week-long competition to find a name for the tiny animal, now around five weeks old and being raised by bottle at Nuremberg zoo.
Twenty percent of the emails and letters came from abroad - some from as far away as New Zealand and the United States.
Nuremberg governing Mayor Ulrich May said the jury decided unanimously to keep with the name that the cub's handlers had given it because of its brilliant white fur.
"They have the closest relationship to the animal," he said.
The cub was taken from its mother on January 8 amid fears she might harm it after she was seen roaming around her enclosure carrying her offspring between her jaws and dropping it twice.
It now weighs 2,950 grams. "Apart from sleeping and eating it doesn't do anything," said Harald Hagen, one of the three keepers who have been looking after Flocke.
Veterinary Bernhard Neurohr said the cub was making good progress, "but is not out of the woods yet." If everything goes well, it could be shown to the public at the end of March or the beginning of April.
"We hope that Flocke will turn into a snowball and then into an avalanche against climate change," said zoo director Dag Encke.
Mayor Maly said city authorities also took into account merchandising aspects when picking the name because the cub was a popular figure and would act as an ambassador for Nuremberg.
He promised the city would exercise restraint in marketing the polar bear, whose name has already been patented.
Nuremberg is already planning to make cuddly animals under the Flocke brand as well as bags, rucksacks, cups T-shirts, calendars and other merchandise.
Among the name suggestions that poured in were Alaska, Snow White and Nanouk, which means polar bear in the language of the Inuit, the indigenous people who inhabit the Arctic region.
The cub opened its eyes for the first time this week, and has been shown on television drinking from its bottle and having its fur brushed by its keepers.
Fans of the polar bear can log on to its new website (www.eisbaerflocke.nuernberg.de) where they can see photographs of the animal and read about its progress.
It is the second polar bear cub to be bottle-raised in Germany after male bear star Knut, who was abandoned by his mother in Berlin Zoo in December 2006 and brought up by a keeper.