With the incipient spring weather in Berlin, the city's inhabitants have been venturing outside after sheltering indoors during the winter. And among them has been the city's cutest, furriest and possibly most famous resident -- Knut, Berlin Zoo's beloved polar bear cub.
New photos released by Berlin Zoo show Knut exploring the outside world in a special enclosure. The tiny polar bear can now walk quite well, the zoo's management said Friday.
Knut was born on Dec. 5, 2006, the first polar bear cub to be born in Berlin Zoo in 30 years, and spent his first 44 days in an incubator. He's being raised on a bottle by his dedicated keeper, Thomas Dörflein -- who has slept in the zoo since Knut's birth -- because his mother Tosca rejected him. Knut follows Dörflein around everywhere, the zoo reports.
Since his birth, Knut has become a superstar in his native city. He's been featured in the newspapers -- Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel has a regular column and Web site devoted to him -- the city's ice hockey team, the Eisbären (Polar Bears), want to adopt him as a mascot, and even Berlin's popular mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is reported to be a fan.
However Berliners still have to wait a while before they can see Knut in the fur; he has to weigh 8 kilos (17.5 pounds) before he's ready to make a public appearance. At the moment he tips the scales at just 6.7 kilos -- but on his diet of milk and pureed chicken he's rapidly gaining weight. He could be on show by Easter, the zoo's management says.
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