Berlin zoo puts star polar bear Knut on a dietMonday, March 23 2009
BERLIN: No more croissants for Knut the polar bear cub.
The Berlin zoo is putting its famous bear on a diet, zoo veterinarian Andreas Ochs said Tuesday.
Knut, who looked like a fuzzy toy when he made his zoo debut in late March, is now 8 months old and weighs about 60 kilograms (132 pounds).
More than Knut's actual weight, it was his physical appearance that persuaded the zoo's staff to put the bear on a diet, Ochs said.
"If Knut would live outdoors, this wouldn't be so bad he would simply build up his fat reserves for the winter," he said. However, in captivity, the bear won't need to fend off a grim winter.
And as he has been putting on a few too many pounds, he will soon have his four daily meals reduced to three.
Knut, who now gets a special porridge of milk, meat, cod liver oil and vitamin supplements, will soon graduate to fish and solid meat.
"But extras like croissants will need to be dropped," Ochs said.
Ochs added that a diet will be enough to get Knut's weight under control the famous bear will not need to start working out yet.
The Berlin daily B.Z. quoted Knut's keeper, Thomas Doerflein, as saying that "Knut likes to nibble in between meals."
Until early July, Knut appeared for twice-daily romps in his enclosure with Doerflein.
The zoo put an end to those joint appearances because of concerns that the fast-growing Knut could soon pose a danger to his keeper and because it wants to prepare him to "associate with other bears and not with other people."
Knut still plays a little and goes for swims with Doerflein, but that is different from the exercise a cub gets when he follows his mother in the wild, Ochs said.
Knut and his brother were rejected by their mother at birth. The brother died after four days, but Knut survived and was raised by zookeepers.
So potent is his appeal that zoo attendance has roughly doubled since his debut, according to officials.