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Knut custody battle fails before Berlin court

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Knut custody battle fails before Berlin court
Photo: DPA
14:32 CEST+02:00
Two German zoos failed to reach an agreement before a Berlin court on Tuesday in a bitter custody battle over world-famous polar bear Knut and the some €6 million in revenue he has earned since 2007.

The Neumünster Zoo let the Berlin Zoo borrow Knut's father Lars in 1999 on the condition that the first-born cub from his union with mother Tosca would belong to Neumünster, and the zoo is now claiming its rights to the lucrative polar bear.

He was the first polar bear to be born and mature in the Berlin Zoo in more than 30 years. Knut came into the international spotlight after his mother abandoned him and his brother on a rock in their enclosure.

His brother died shortly thereafter, but little Knut survived and was raised by the late zookeeper Thomas Dörflein. The cuddly bear became a worldwide sensation, spawning countless souvenirs, stuffed toys, books and even an animated film.

Berlin has reportedly tried to reach an agreement with Neumünster, but officials there exhibited a “total attitude of refusal,” the zoo said.

“They'll get a few penguins and then the matter is settled,” capital city zoo director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz said.

But Neumünster, in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, won't be bought off by a few flightless birds, saying the small zoo desperately needs Knut's income for renovations.

Both sides agreed to try again and reach a solution outside of court. If they fail to do so within the next two months, the court will rule on September 1.

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