When Knut was born in December, his mother ignored him and his brother, who died. Zoo officials intervened, choosing to raise the cub themselves.
But Albrecht and other activists fret that it is inappropriate for a predator, known for its fierceness and ability to fend for itself in the wild, to be snuggled, bottle-fed and made into a commodity by zookeepers.
They argue that current treatment of the cub is inhumane and could cause him future difficulties interacting with fellow polar bears. "They cannot domesticate a wild animal," added Ruediger Schmiedel, head of the Foundation for Bears.
The charity cites a similar case of a baby sloth which was put to sleep after being abandoned by its mother last December in the Leipzig city zoo.
But Berlin Zoo holds different opinions. Its chief vet Andre Schuele says the activists' criticisms would make him angry if he could take them seriously. "Polar bears live alone in the wild. I see no logical reason why this bear should be killed."
Schuele also argued that given the increased rarity of wild polar bears, it makes sense to keep them alive in captivity so that they can be bred. "Polar bears are under threat of extinction, and if we feed the bear with a bottle, it has a good chance of growing up and perhaps becoming attractive as a stud for other zoos," he said.
Knut, who recently made the official A-list when he was pictured by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz for an environmental protection campaign, is scheduled to make his public debut at the zoo in the next few days.
If it is inhumane to raise a bear cub by humans, and in fact so humiliating for little Knut that it would be better to euthanize him, why is it expected that human children should be removed from their parents and raised in
Here is an endearing little video about Knut (the narration is in German). And he won't be destroyed, unlike the baby sloth cited above. It helps when you are voted Berlin's top citizen and have a children's dish at a restaurant named after you.
Hat Tip: Rhymes with Right
Related Tags: Knut, homeschooling, polar bears, environmentalism