Germany's new polar bear star faring well

11th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

The nameless cub that has become Germany's new polar bear star is doing well without her mother.

Nuremberg, Germany (dpa) - The nameless cub that has become Germany's new polar bear star is doing well after spending the second night without her mother at a German zoo.

"She's a good, quiet baby," said Helmut Maegdefrau, deputy chief executive of the zoo in the southern German city of Nuremberg, which is rearing the tiny creature by hand.

A team of four keepers takes turns bottle-feeding the cub every four hours. In between, the cub sleeps, "only crying when she wakes up and is hungry," Maegdefrau said.

The cub was removed on Tuesday from its agitated mother, Vera, who was seen roaming around her enclosure carrying her offspring between her jaws and dropping it twice.

Maegdefrau said the careless handing did not appear to have harmed the cub, whose immune system was stable because of the mother's milk she drunk in the first few weeks after birth.

"We're optimistic she'll survive, although there's always a risk involved. She could still get an infection or suffer a development disorder," the zoo officials said.

In the meantime, the cub appears to enjoy it every time she comes into contact with a human. "At the moment, she can only loll about, stretch herself and bawl," Maegdefrau said.

The baby's eyes are closed but they will gradually open enabling her to take in all of her environment.

The zoo refuses to dub the animal Knut II after a male bear star born in Berlin Zoo in December 2006 and brought up by a keeper. It says a public competition to name the cub will be held once it has safely emerged from the risky period of babyhood.

Maegdefrau said the cub would probably not be shown to the public until after Easter, which this year falls at the end of March.

He said the zoo was looking for a playmate for the cub and had already been in touch with Moscow zoo. "We could then raise both cubs and later put them in an enclosure together," he said.

The zoo official said this would help prevent the cub becoming overdependent on humans and guard against behavioural disorders.

Another bear at the zoo had killed her two offspring early Monday.

Sited in the city where the toy industry invented the teddy bear a century ago, Nuremberg Zoo had originally been determined to never again raise animals like pets, with a fixation on human masters.

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