Snowflake-mania hits Nuremberg

Snowflake-mania hits Nuremberg
Ready for her close-up. Photo: DPA
Thousands of visitors thronged Nuremberg’s zoo on Saturday, all with the same destination – the enclosure occupied by Germany’s latest baby polar bear celebrity, Snowflake.

Zoo officials estimated that by the early afternoon, some 4,000 people had already found their way to Snowflake’s domain, with many more fans on their way once the morning’s clouds gave way to bright sunshine.

Snowflake, or “Flocke,” as she’s known in German, made her first public appearance on Tuesday, but Saturday was the first day most families with young children were able to make a pilgrimage to see the little white bear cub.

Deputy zoo manager Helmut Mägdefrau was pleased by the level of activity.

“It’s really taking off,” he said. “We’re very happy. But this is not a serious strain for us. We’re glad that we didn’t have a huge circus right at the beginning and that we’ve been able to get used to all of this gradually.”

He said he expects the zoo’s true test to come with the upcoming public holidays in early May.

“If we have nice weather then, it’ll be really full,” Mägdefrau said.

When Germany’s original star polar bear cub, Knut, first made his public debut in the Berlin zoo, some 15,000 to 20,000 visitors passed through the zoo’s gates each day.

Thanks to the Knut phenomenon, the Nuremberg zoo staff were well-prepared for the onslaught of visitors. At one point earlier in the day, the visitor’s deck had to be closed due to overcrowding, and a long line formed, but guests reported that the wait time was only around 15 minutes.

On her fifth day in the public eye, Snowflake showed no signs of growing weary of her adoring fans, merrily batting about a red plastic ball and chasing a bone attached to a length of rope.

Mägdefrau also said that Snowflake is enjoying her outdoor enclosure, where she can be seen for two hours each morning, and three hours each afternoon.

“If Snowflake signals to us that she’d like to leave the enclosure and have a little rest, then of course we’ll respect her wishes,” he said.