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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 00:06 GMT 01:06 UK
Death threat for German bear Knut
Polar bear cub Knut
Polar bear cub Knut was defiant in the face of death threats

Security was tightened at Berlin Zoo after its celebrity polar bear cub Knut received an anonymous death threat.

Reports said the zoo had received a hand-written fax containing the threat: "Knut is dead! Thursday midday."

But Berlin police dismissed the note as a hoax and the deadline passed safely for the four-month-old baby bear.

Knut became a media star after there were calls for him to be killed rather than hand-reared at the zoo. His mother had rejected him after he was born.

Back to work

Oblivious to the threat to his life, the hard-working cub kept to his busy schedule of daily appearances on Thursday, rolling around and playing with his keeper, Thomas Doerflein, an hour before the deadline was due.

About 12 minders with walkie-talkies patrolled the area around his enclosure.

"He is safe and in good spirits," zoo official Ragnar Kuehne said after the deadline had passed.

It's the second time fans have had cause to worry for the bear's health recently.

Earlier this week he took a one-day break from public appearances to receive treatment for teething pains.

The media frenzy over Knut boosted visitor numbers to 200,000 in March - double the zoo's normal figure.

Born last December, the bear ignited a heated debate about hand-rearing after his mother rejected him and he was brought up and bottle-fed by Mr Doerflein.

An animal rights activist said Knut should be killed rather than treated like a domestic pet - a suggestion that triggered a nationwide surge of affection for the cub.

Germans have been eagerly following his progress on television and the internet.


SEE ALSO
Baby bear becomes media star
23 Mar 07 |  Europe
Berlin rallies behind baby bear
20 Mar 07 |  Europe

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