German zoo denies reports that celebrity polar bear cub ill

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BERLIN, February 1 (RIA Novosti) - The deputy director of Nuremberg zoo, Helmut Magdefrau, denied on Friday media reports that its celebrity female polar bear cub Flocke has health problems.

The four-week old baby bear was removed from her pen on January 9 after zoo officials feared she would be eaten alive by her mother who showed signs of rejecting her. Two other baby cubs at the zoo were eaten by their mother Wilma.

"Little Flocke is absolutely healthy and is developing perfectly," Magdefrau said in a statement.

The statement followed media reports, quoting the zoo's vet, Bernhard Neurohr, as saying that after keepers began bottle-feeding the cub, Flocke showed symptoms of an intestinal infection.

Magdefrau explained that after a course of antibiotics, the little bear showed no signs of a serious infection, and vets gave permission for the treatment to be stopped on January 21.

At present, the fur ball weighs 4.9 kg (10.8 lbs), is half-meter tall and is growing quickly for her age. The bear is already trying to stand and even plays with her keepers.

Zoo experts have carried out an experiment by putting a large mirror in front of the cub to prepare her for her first encounter with other polar bears. At first Flocke licked the mirror, but when she saw movement, she became aggressive.

However, vets say that the reaction was quite normal, as only primates and dolphins recognize themselves in the mirror.

The zoo hopes that Flocke will become as famous as Knut, a male cub from the Berlin Zoo, who was also abandoned by his mother, a 20-year-old traumatized circus bear, Tosca, shortly after his birth in December 2006.

Knut quickly became a symbol of Germany's campaign against global warming and even Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted her fondness for the bear.

The polar bear's official logo has earned over $14 million for the Berlin Zoo and has been used on a wide range of merchandise, including cuddly toys, books, CDs, credit cards and souvenirs.

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