BERLIN (AFP) — A polar bear cub has been separated from its disturbed mother at a German zoo because of fears for its safety and will be fed by bottle, officials said on Tuesday.
Keepers intervened after another polar beer at the same zoo in the southern city of Nuremberg ate both of her cubs this week.
The case of the rescued cub has drawn comparisons with Knut, a polar bear cub at Berlin's zoo who achieved worldwide celebrity last year when he was raised by his keeper after being rejected by his mother.
In Nuremberg, the four-week-old cub's mother Vera had begun to act strangely after being disturbed by a cameraman who climbed a fence to film the bears in the man-made cave where the birth took place, the city council's press service said.
The intrusion had "probably made Vera feel that she had no secure habitat" for her cub, it added. She had begun to pace endlessly around her enclosure carrying the cub in her jaws.
After the cub was separated, vets said it was strong and healthy and had been "brought up very well" by its mother before she became disturbed, the statement said.
The zoo has faced criticism for failing to intervene to help the other two cubs, re-opening a debate on whether cubs rejected by their mothers should be saved or whether nature should be allowed to take its course.
It is common behaviour for predators such as polar bears to eat their young if the cubs are sick or refuse to feed.
No trace of the cubs has been found in their enclosure, leading keepers to conclude that their mother Vilma ate them.
Last year, Knut captured the public's attention after he was neglected by his mother Tosca and fast became a global brand, appearing in Vanity Fair magazine.
Knut, who has since lost his cute looks after filling out to more than 200 kilogrammes (660 pounds), is on the verge of becoming a Hollywood star with talks between producers and Berlin zoo at an advanced stage.
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