Berlin's Polar Bear Row

Make no mistake about it: Knut is one very cute bear.

The four-month-old polar bear is the star of the Berlin Zoo, an international celebrity and, as CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar reports, the center of a bad-tempered row about whether he should have been allowed to live.

Knut is the first polar bear born in Germany in thirty years and that alone should guarantee fame.

Then there's the story of his birth to be considered. He was abandoned with his twin by their mother Tosca. She's a one-time circus bear, a first-time mother. She left her cubs on a rock to die.

Scooped up by zoo keepers with a fishing net, the twin died. Knut spent forty-four days in an incubator. He was bottle fed every few hours by his devoted keeper, and mother-bear substitute, on a mix of baby formula and cod liver oil – now he gets a little chopped up chicken.

Knut has thrived.

With web pages, podcasts, and weekly updates on the local news, Germans are entranced.

Animal rights activists have been enraged. On the front page of newspapers, they have argued nature should have taken its course – better a lethal injection than a bottle-fed Knut, in danger of losing his inner bear.

The zoo has offered assurances to a horrified public that it has nothing but Knut's best interests at heart. Even the animal rights activists acknowledged it would be cruel to put him to death now.

As for the bear, he makes his debut in front of an already adoring public later this week.
  • James Klatell

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