When Knut was born, the first polar bear cub at the Berlin Zoo in more than thirty years, he was no bigger than a snowball and unable to care for himself. His mother, a rescued East German circus bear, didn't know how to take care of Knut and rejected him. Knut would have died if it weren't for Thomas Dorflein, a zookeeper who nurtured Knut, feeding him, sleeping with him, and giving him the love and attention Knut needed to thrive. But Thomas wasn't the only one who adopted Knut. The adorable little polar bear captured the world's attention, and now Knut is loved around the globe.
The best selling father/daughters team who brought us Owen and Mzee have turned to a polar bear cub in Berlin to further promote their message about environmental responsibility. Photographs and clearly worded text follow the story of how the zookeeper Thomas Dorflein became the full-time substitute parent for the cub who was rejected by its mother shortly after birth. This is a solid informational book, with a very clear political agenda. As was true with the hippo Owen, the Hatkoffs assure us that Thomas and the polar bear cub's relationship cannot and should not extend past Knut's first year, since to do so would not respect the laws of natureand one of the motivations for this book on what has been hailed as "The Cutest Animal Ever" is to alert the world to the danger of the extinction of polar bears, due to global warning. Interestingly, there is a brief allusion but no real exploration of quite a different issue about man's interference with nature. A zoo visitor created a stir when he pointed out that, by definition, zoos can be seen as interfering with the laws of nature, for in the wild, Knut would not have been rescued, or survived, after being rejected by his mother. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry