Adopted polar bear celebrates first birthday
Knut, the world-famous polar bear, turned one today and polished off a giant fish cake at a birthday party in Berlin Zoo that was broadcast live on German television.
Hundreds of children gathered at the zoo with birthday cards for the bear, who became a tourist magnet after he was rejected by his mother and rescued from her cage by a keeper a year ago.
The baby bear was bottle-fed, had Elvis Presley songs played to him as lullabies, and was accompanied at his every step as he was presented to the public when he was four months old.
The cuddly white cub sent Berlin Zoo's shares soaring to an all-time high on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as visitors queued in their thousands to watch him play in his rocky enclosure.
Stuffed toy Knut bears sold out several times over, the cub made it onto the cover of glossy magazine Vanity Fair and Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio came to visit.
But the rush to see the bear slowed as he began to put on weight and lost his cute looks. Knut now weighs a hefty 115kg and is no longer snow white.
As school children serenaded him today, news channel NTV remarked that the crowds of visitors for his birthday were now an exception, reminiscent of the old days.
But the bear continues to be a mascot for the struggle to stop the ice caps melting and save the polar bear, with the German government using his logo in a campaign to stop global warming.
The Berlin Zoo estimates that its takings were about €10m higher than usual last year thanks to Knut.
The country's national mint this week issued 25,000 special commemorative silver coins to mark his birthday.