A Happy Birthday Bear: Knut Turns Two as Berlin Holds Its Breath

While Berlin's superstar polar bear celebrates the end of his second year of life, many worry that his time in the city may be approaching its end.

There is something bittersweet, perhaps even elegiac, about the idea of celebrating Knut's second birthday at a time when rumors are flying that the Berlin Zoo's most famous occupant will soon be deported to an undisclosed location -- perhaps in Sweden. Perhaps this is the reason that the zoo had originally declined to plan any festivities at all, before caving to a well-organized international campaign that collected thousands of signatures.

Still, Berlin's first bear gave no sign of fear or existential unease as fans -- just as they did last year -- rolled in from all over the world on Friday to pay him tribute. Two years may not seem like a long time, even when computed in bear years. Nevertheless, it is worth considering that Knut began life as an orphan rejected by his mother. He then proceeded to outlive his adoptive parent, handler Thomas Dörflein, who tragically died of a heart attack earlier this year. Perhaps there is indeed much to celebrate.

In any event, Knut did not disappoint the devoted followers who gathered to do him honor. According to a posting on his blog, Knut had planned to spend the entire day "doing his favorite things," a list which included playing with his ball and "of course eating a lot." He might well have added to his prospective list of activities "playing to the crowd," for Knut delivered a bravura performance for spectators in which he repeatedly stood on his hind legs and tossed his ball to the assembled throng.

Later on, Knut further delighted his worshippers by feasting on an ice cake.

cpg -- with wire reports

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