Berlin polar bear Knut to get live-in Latin lover

Thu Aug 6, 2009 12:30pm EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Berlin's celebrity polar bear Knut is to get an Italian girlfriend from Munich's Hellabrunn zoo, German media reported on Thursday.

Knut, who captivated worldwide attention for surviving after his mother rejected him at birth, will be joined in his Berlin enclosure by playmate, Gianna, who is named after a Italian singer, Der Tagesspiegel daily and other papers reported.

Doris Webb from the campaign group 'Knut forever in Berlin' welcomed the news.

"We're very pleased," she said.

"If you watch Knut you see he's very friendly toward people. Gianna's also meant to be quite playful so I think they'll get on well together."

Gianna, born in November 2006, currently resides in Munich with Knut's grandma, Lisa, after domestic bliss with her intended mate, the nine-year-old Yoghi, turned sour.

The orphan cub Knut, who weighed only 800 grams at birth, has now grown into a strapping 200 kg (441 lb) adolescent but will not be ready to mate for another two years.

The polar bears will have the chance for a few dates through the bars before Gianna moves into his enclosure.

Berlin zoo declined to comment.

Knut has become the star attraction of Berlin zoo, drawing millions of visitors and earning a small fortune from a range of Knut merchandise.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>Polar bear Knut walks out of a cave in his enclosure at the Berlin Zoo, July 7, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>