Knut the Polar Bear Cub got a lot of attention when he was born at the Berlin Zoo, a little over two years ago. The little fellow with fluffy white fur and black button eyes looked just like a teddy bear and you could pick up and cuddle.
Knut was rejected by his mother and raised by human zookeepers, which brought a cry of outrage from animal rights activists that he would be better off dead. This is an opinion that still mystifies me.
During his two years at the Berlin Zoo, Knut, who now weighs 440 pounds, has become one of the main attractions of the zoo. Knut is still a big star at the Berlin Zoo, which has credited him with much of the 27 percent increase in zoo visitors for 2007.
The zoo has profited with sales of products that bear Knut’s image, such as T-shirts, stuffed animals, mugs and DVD’s.
At two years old, Knut is still considered a cub. He is outgrowing his space, which is a space in a section of the area that his parents, Lars and Tosca, live in. There are also two other females in the enclosure. When Knut is six years old he will be at sexual maturity and will need more room, so there will be space for Knut and a suitable mate.
Berlin Zoo officials have said that they will have to either build a larger enclosure for the popular Polar bear, or send him to live at a different zoo. There is a lack of space that would be required for expansion.
Many other zoos have expressed interest in having Knut come live with them. The top choices are said to be Tierpark Neumuenster in Germany, Zoom Erlebneswelt in German and Orsa Bjornpark in Sweden.
Polar Bears are a threatened species. Also called Ice Bears, the Arctic dwelling bears are not yet considered endangered. Global warming is melting the glacial ice that is their natural habitat, so climate changes threaten the white bears with extinction. According to the WWF Website, Polar Bears may be gone by 2050.
Polar Bears in the wild live spend most of the time on the sea ice of the Arctic. The bears do most of their feeding on the sea ice from April to July.
Global warming is raising the temperatures of the Polar Bears feeding ground, which shortens their hunting season.
Polar Bears in the wild live an average of 15 to 18 years, although there are some who have lived longer. Polar bears live longer in captivity, often into their mid to late 30’s.
Polar Bears International
World Wildlife Federation
The Berlin Zoo
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