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Polar Bear Cub Makes His Debut

The Brookfield Zoo In Chicago is introducing the world to its newest family member: a precious polar bear cub.

He was born in November, and in the last couple of days he's been venturing outside of his den for the very first time.

"Everything is new to him," Mike Brown, the polar bear cub's main caretaker, explains to The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "Thursday was the first day he was out. And he's just learning his exhibit. He's learning everything going on around him, all kinds of new sensory information coming in to him. He's just having a good time."

The cub has been denned up with his mother until now. But zookeepers have been able to keep an eye on mother Arki and the young cub by putting a video camera and microphone in the den.

"That was the only way we could see what was going on inside of the den," Brown explains, "When they're born, they're only about the size of a stick of butter, about 1 or 2 pounds. And they grow very, very quickly. Actually, from the hallway that we accessed the grottos from, we could hear him screaming that first day that he was born. And as he grew, all we would be able to see him on was a TV monitor. But very quickly he develops, he moves around. Mom is very, very attentive, very, very patient. It was really great watching him grow. We were the lucky ones getting to see the mom in the tape and the video. Now that it's on the Web, a lot of people can see it."

He's only 25 pounds right now, but the cub is going to get very big, very soon. Brown notes, "His dad is a little further down the line. He weighs about 1,000 pounds. So he's going to grow quite a bit." The cub is currently nursing and eating solid food. Brown says, "We're just transitioning mom back onto her normal diet. So he's pretty much getting bread and apples and learning to eat fish and meat as well."

His mother was first to enter into public view Thursday, but a few minutes later, the timid cub met people and snowflakes at the same time.

Brown says, "Obviously, Arki was very excited to come out. She had been locked in since Nov. 5. He was born Nov. 8. She came out immediately and he hollered because she left without him. She went back to the den and she came right back out with him."

After watching for all these months, Brown says the cub has already developed quite a personality. "He's very inquisitive, very rambunctious, very active. The first day he was a little tentative, but quickly overcame that. Now he's exploring the exhibit, jumping around on the exhibit. One of the cool things he likes to do is chase the birds," he says.

The cub doesn't have a name yet, and Brown says the public will get a chance to offer some input. "On the zoo's Web site, brookfieldzoo.com, we will have details very soon about how the public can name him."

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