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Celebrity Polar Bear Knut on a Diet

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The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 31, 2007; 1:54 PM

BERLIN -- No more croissants for Knut the polar bear cub _ the Berlin zoo is putting its most famous resident on a diet.

Knut, whose legendary cuteness has doubled zoo attendance since his debut in March, is now 8 months old and weighs about 132 pounds. More than Knut's actual weight, it was his physical appearance that persuaded the zoo's staff to make the change, zoo veterinarian Andreas Ochs said Tuesday.

"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.

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 his four daily meals will be reduced to three _ and "extras like croissants will need to be dropped," Ochs said.

The Berlin daily B.Z. quoted Knut's keeper, Thomas Doerflein, as saying that "Knut likes to nibble in between meals."

Knut used to appear for twice-daily romps in his enclosure with Doerflein _ but those ended in July because of concerns the fast-growing Knut could pose a danger to his keeper and because the zoo wants him to get acclimated to other bears.

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.


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