Polar Bear Cub Opens Eyes for First Time

(AP Photo/Tiergarten Nuernberg, Ralf Schedlbauer, HO) :: In this photo provided by the Tiergarten Nuernberg Zoo, keeper Horst Maussner brushes the head of the unnamed polar bear cub, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008, Nuremberg, Germany. The five week old polar bear cub was taken from her mother, Vera, last week, amid concerns that Vera could harm the newborn. Some 23,800 suggestions for names for the polar bear cub have arrived on the special Internet page, it was announced in a press release on Wednesday.

Updated: 1/16/2008


Germany's latest famous polar bear cub opened her eyes for the first time on Tuesday — and it appears she may be cross-eyed.

Though her eyes have just opened as tiny slits, zoo keeper Stefanie Krueger said it appears she is ''a little crossed-eyed.''

However, ''Flocke'' — as the keepers at the Nuremberg zoo have dubbed the yet-to-be-named cub — seems to be developing just fine, and veterinarian Bernhard Neurohr said he can already see her teeth shimmering through her gums.

''We are cautiously optimistic that we'll succeed in hand raising her,'' Krueger said.

The cub gets bottle-fed with milk every four hours and weighs 2.56 kilograms (5.64 pounds) already.

''By now I can distinguish her different noises and know what the little one wants,'' said Flocke's other keeper, Petra Fritz. ''I rub her tummy, for example.''

Over the weekend, the 5-week-old got her own Web page, and the zoo and the city of Nuremberg say they've already received suggestions for 22,000 names.

Many are traditional German names — but among the suggestions are Snow White, Aicha and Yuki Chan. More than 2 million people had visited the site by Tuesday afternoon.

In German, ''Flocke'' means ''flake,'' as in snow flake.

Flocke was taken from her mother, Vera, last week, amid concerns that Vera could harm or even kill the newborn.

She won't be returned to her, a decision made after keepers spotted Vera carrying the cub around in her jaws and tossing it around her enclosure.

Little more than a year ago, another polar bear club in Germany — Knut — was hand-raised by his keepers and became a celebrity after being rescued when his mother rejected him.

He delighted thousands of visitors to Berlin's zoo who avidly followed his growth from roly-poly cub to full-grown adult.

Flocke's popularity is beginning rival Knut's, and the Nuremberg Zoo now provides daily news conferences to give updates on her condition.


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