Rescued Nuremberg polar bear cub: "It's a girl"
The polar bear cub rescued this week from its agitated mother at a German zoo is a female.
10 January 2008
Nuremberg, Germany (dpa) - The polar bear cub that was rescued this week from its agitated mother at a German zoo is a female, keepers said Wednesday as bottle-feeding of the new animal star began.
Nuremberg Zoo had thought the previous day the animal was a male, but a woman keeper who took a closer peek could not find male features, according to Helmut Maegdefrau, deputy chief executive of the zoo.
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 was "lively, vigorous and well-fed," so the likelihood it would survive was high. If it grew normally, it would be put on public view in late March, he said.
"We'll only feel certain when it's three months old and can walk," he said. The cub is sleeping under infra-red lamps on a "bear bed" to ensure it does not catch a chill, and two keepers in shifts are feeding it infant formula every four hours.
Nuremberg Zoo reluctantly confiscated the cub after its mother Vera began roaming nervously outside her secluded den, carrying the three-week-old by the nape of its neck in a possible prelude to infanticide.
Another bear at the zoo had killed her two offspring early Monday.
The Zoo says that predators typically kill their young if they become weak or the environment becomes too threatening. Vera "went crazy" after keepers snatched her baby, but had since settled down.
Zoo chief Dag Encke said the zoo had several keepers who had hand- raised bears many years ago and would tend the cub.
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.
It had decided to follow nature's way and leave the cub with Vera come what may, even at the risk she would kill it in a moment of stress. But the glare of media attention and a public outcry forced the zoo to change its mind.
The Zoo said Wednesday it hoped to obtain a second cub so that the new cub could learn to socialize bear-style.
The zoo has defended its action to let the first two cubs die, with a spokesman saying the zoo had "acted absolutely correctly" under guidelines laid down by the European Animal Conservation and Breeding Programme.