Monday, July 9, 2007

When a Child Star Grows Up

The question would not be if it would happen but when it would happen. Last May the word was out that Knut was no longer the cute cub that had drawn so many visitors to the Berlin Zoo. It is now official: "Cute Knut" has given his final appearance. Here is how it was reported at SPIEGEL ONLINE (one of the best sites for Knut photographs):

Sunday marked the last installment of the "Knut show," in which Knut and his keeper Thomas Dörflein paraded before visitors in an emptied bear enclosure at the Berlin Zoo. Ever since Knut went on public display in March, the celebrity cub would wrestle with Thomas and play with his famous green blankie twice a day in front of admiring crowds. No more.

This decision has most to do with the fact that Knut has grown. Any adult that deals with him has bruises (mostly a product of Knut's idea of "play") to prove it. However, in preparing this "final" story, SPIEGEL also got a useful perspective from André Schüle, Knut's vet:

Another reason for the decision to cancel the shows, Schüle said, is that the demand to see Knut has shrunk. The zoo no longer needs to let Knut roam the large, empty brown bear enclosure -- which used to be necessary to cope with the crowds of fans. "The number of visitors has dropped in the last few weeks as Knut has started looking less like a baby and more like an adult, which makes him less attractive to those people who like cute young animals," Schüle said.

In other words, as anyone familiar with the media business would put it, Knut's ratings have fallen! It turns out that Knut was just another child star. Jerry Mathers was able to succeed in his "second life;" will Knut?

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