July 5, 2007
Knut the Polar Bear Still Draws Visitors
BERLIN (AP) - Berlin Zoo's star polar bear cub Knut welcomed his millionth visitor Thursday, showing he hasn't lost his drawing power even if he's growing up.
Ilja and Vincent Arends, a couple from Rotterdam, Netherlands, were together credited with being the millionth admirers, and given flowers and stuffed Knut bear toys.
The zoo, which had 2.3 million visitors last year, says it expects an additional 500,000 this year due to mild weather and the cute bear cub, by now a fixture in German newspapers and television.
Though Knut's fans continue to flock to see him, German newspapers have long been speculating when it will be time for the daily "Knut Show" to come to an end. At some point, Knut will be large and dangerous enough that he will no longer be able to frolic with his keeper, Thomas Doerflein, to the delight of visitors.
Born Dec. 5, Knut has been hand-raised by Doerflein and other zoo staff after his mother rejected him and another cub that died. Knut went on public show March 23.
The seven-month-old cub already weighs 42 kilograms (92 pounds) and Doerflein, by now a media star in his own right, said in an interview Thursday with the German newspaper Tagesspiegel that the daily show is more trying than it was several months ago.
"He now sometimes has temper tantrums when he's hungry or when he wants something and doesn't get it, then he gives me a really good bite," said Doerflein. "He is, after all, a predator."