Berlin′s new baby polar bear makes public debut | News | DW | 16.03.2019
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


Berlin's new baby polar bear makes public debut

Berlin's Tierpark zoo has presented a new celebrity — a 3-and-a-half-month-old polar bear — to the public. The cub is seen as a successor to Knut, the Berlin polar bear that became a worldwide celebrity.

Visitors to Berlin's Tierpark on Saturday had their first chance to see the latest addition to the zoo's polar bear enclosure.

The cub, which has not yet been named, appeared to the public for the first time, a day after first emerging with her mother, 9-year-old Tonja, from the den.

Still getting used to the outdoor world, the baby bear lolloped around the enclosure, suckled and went for a swim. Visitors cooed over her every move, taking snaps of the new arrival.

'Bond between them is very close'

The cub, born on December 1, spent the first months of its life in darkness with her mother. Baby polar bears are born deaf and blind, and need intensive rearing.

"The bond between them is very close," said the zoo's polar bearkeeper, Florian Sicks. "Tonja is a very good mother, taking incredibly good care of her cub, never letting her out of her sight. We can't complain."

The mortality rate of polar bears is very high in the first three months of life.

"We are still extremely pleased with how the cub is developing," said Sicks.

Read more:  Russian islands under polar bear 'invasion'

Successor to Knut?

Tonya lost three of her cubs in the past two years. Male polar bears have little input into the lives of their offspring and the cub's father, Wolodja, lives in a zoo in the Netherlands.

Zoo directors say the cub's name will be determined in collaboration with potential future adopters.

The zoo will hope the cub can go on to match the popularity of polar bear Knut, born in 2006. 

Rejected by his mother, Knut had to be hand-reared by zookeepers. The bear garnered worldwide attention, and brought in millions of euros from visits and merchandise.

Knut also attracted widespread media attention, once featuring on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine and even appearing on German stamps.

Read more: The peculiar traits that made polar bear life possible

However, Knut died from a suspected brain tumor in 2011. A statue of him stands in the zoo.

A potential successor to Knut, Fritz, died of hepatitis at the zoo in 2017.

Because its Arctic habitat is threatened by climate change, the polar bear is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The population of polar bears in the wild stands at 26,000, according to the IUCN, and a European Union breeding plan is aimed at boosting bear numbers.

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

DW recommends

Audios and videos on the topic