Knut to Stay Put in Berlin Zoo

Berlin's beloved polar bear Knut can stay in his home city.

The Berlin Zoo said Wednesday it will pay €430,000 ($600,000) to the Neumuenster zoo to settle a financial dispute over ownership of the nearly 3-year-old bear. Neumuenster owns Knut's father and had insisted it was the legal owner of Knut, the elder bear's first offspring.

The polar bear rose to global fame after he was rejected by his mother when he was born in captivity on December 5, 2006. The fluffy cub was shown to the public 15 weeks later, and attendance at the zoo has roughly doubled since, officials there said.

The resulting "Knutmania" led to a 2007 Vanity Fair cover with actor Leonardo DiCaprio shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, a film and plush likenesses.

Though the zoo has never released exact numbers, Knut merchandise including postcards, key chains, candy and stuffed Knuts costing up to €29.95 ($42) have brought in hundreds of thousands of euros.

Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the full-grown Knut on Wednesday met with disappointment. Crowds of locals and tourists peered over a railing to see only a zookeeper cleaning the cage with a hose.

Caroline Schulz of Berlin said she was disappointed the bear was not outside.

"It's nice that he can stay in his home city, because he's so well-known here, but it's too bad that he's not out today," said Schulz, herself from Berlin. "We came especially to see Knut."

For more info:

  • Berlin Zoo: Knut