Berlin zookeeper's son tries to cash in on Knut

Mon Jan 5, 2009 1:37pm EST
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - The son of the late German zookeeper who nurtured celebrity polar bear cub Knut at Berlin zoo has raised nearly 7,000 euros ($9,748) by selling off his father's belongings on internet auction site eBay.

The 18-year old son of Thomas Doerflein, who died unexpectedly last September, set up the online auction saying he needed the money to look after his father's grave. German media reported he aimed to use the money to buy a headstone.

Doerflein's sleeping bag, which the keeper used while he was caring for Knut round the clock and getting up several times a night to feed him, received 84 offers and fetched just over 1,400 euros ($1,950).

The bearded zookeeper's 10-year-old car obtained the highest bids, going for 3,600 euros, according to eBay after the end of the auction on Saturday night.

Other items in the sale included a belt, a book with a CD about Elvis and a pocket knife.

Doerflein's former fiance condemned the sale of her partner's possessions as "tasteless," several German newspapers reported, and argued the objects were too personal to make money.

Doerflein died from a heart attack at the age of 44.

Known as Knut's surrogate father, the dedicated zookeeper shot to fame despite his attempts to shun the spotlight and even became a heartthrob while he hand-reared the polar cub, rejected by his mother.

<p>Polar bear Knut eats his 'birthday cake' during his second birthday celebrations in his enclosure at the Berlin Zoo December 5, 2008. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele</p>