NUREMBERG, Germany – The Berlin zoo's polar bear, Knut — who garnered worldwide fame by being hand-raised by his keepers from a pint-sized fluffball to adulthood — now has company.
The Nuremberg Zoo announced Tuesday that it would also begin bottle-feeding a newborn polar bear cub that was taken away from its mother over fears she might harm it.
"The safety of the young animal is the first priority," said deputy zoo director Helmut Maegdefrau.
The zoo made the decision to remove the cub from its mother, Vera, after another polar bear at the zoo apparently ate her two newborn cubs.
Though Vera has not tried to harm her own cub so far, it was taken away from her Tuesday afternoon when she carried it out of her cave and appeared to try and hide it elsewhere in the polar bear compound, Maegdefrau said.
"She is absolutely nervous," he added.
Vera's cub, which was born in mid-December and has not yet been named, seems healthy and the chances of raising it by hand are good, Maegdefrau said.
He added that the other polar bear, Vilma, most likely killed her cubs because they were sick.
The zoo keepers have not yet been able to enter Vilma's cave, however, so are not 100 percent certain the cubs have been eaten.
Knut, who celebrated his first birthday on Dec. 5, was rejected by his mother after birth and hand-raised by zookeepers.
So potent was his appeal as a cute cub that zoo attendance went up by 20 percent since his first public debut in March, officials said.
He has his own blog and TV show and has appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, not to mention scores of German newspapers and other publications.
Now weighing more than 265 pounds, the boisterous bear no longer plays with his keeper, Thomas Doerflein, and has an enclosure all to himself.