Shortly after the two polar bears were put in the same enclosure, Gianna swiped at Knut, but he was unharmed, the paper said.
“It happened the way we expected,” Berlin Zoo bear expert Heiner Klös told the paper. “Knut was very shy, the Munich bear clearly has the dirndl on,” he added, referring to the traditional female dress in Bavaria.
After Gianna, who is on loan from Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo, showed Knut who would be in charge, the two three-year-olds got along peacefully.
Several zookeepers were standing by in case things went awry, and were especially watchful after the Stralsund incident, the paper said.
Knut, hand-raised after his mother Tosca abandoned him and his twin brother, has had more than eight million visitors. His brother died, but Knut went on to inspire countless toys, books, an animated film and even appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair.
The Berlin Zoo has garnered criticism for Knut’s upbringing, with some saying he was fixated on humans. Before meeting Gianna, he had never seen another polar bear. Indeed, bear keeper Klös said he “reacted with total surprise and shock the first time he saw the big female bear in his enclosure.”
The two bears were introduced early in the morning before the zoo opened and were separated after some 90 minutes.
Gianna, who originally came to Germany from Italy, is Knut’s intended mate. If the two Arctic omnivores take a liking to one another, zookeepers hope they will mate upon reaching sexual maturity in another two years.
But Gianna, named after Italian rock singer Gianna Nannini, has a history of romantic antagonism – she spurned her last intended mate, 12-year-old Yoghi, and had to move in with Knut’s grandmother Lisa (32) at the Hellabrunn Zoo.