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German polar bear cub ventures outdoors

Image: Flocke at the zoo in Nuremberg
Flocke, meaning "snowflake" in German, leans on a rock ond curiously sniffs around on her first outdoor adventure.Ho / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Nuremberg zoo's celebrity polar bear cub, Flocke, has ventured outdoors for the first time.

The three-month old Flocke — German for "Flake," as in snowflake — had a private early-morning outing before the zoo opened, the Nuremberg city government said Thursday. She is due to make her public debut on April 9.

"Flocke romped through the grass with curiosity, and sniffed everything that came under her fine nose," said Bernhard Neurohr, a veterinarian at the zoo.

Flocke was born in mid-December. She was taken Jan. 8 from her mother, Vera, for hand-rearing after the elder bear was seen tossing the cub around her enclosure, prompting concerns she could harm or even kill the newborn.

A handout picture shows polar bear cub Flocke (snowflake) at the zoo in Nuremberg March 27, 2008. Flocke was separated from her mother Vera after officials at the Nuremberg zoo became concerned she might harm the cub. REUTERS/Handout/Tiergarten Nuernberg/Stadt Nuernberg (GERMANY). FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS..Ho / X80001

The fluffy white cub's celebrity has rivaled that of the Berlin zoo's Knut, who was hand-raised by keepers after being rejected by his mother at birth.

Flocke, who now weighs more than 36 pounds, was taken to the zoo's tiger enclosure for Thursday's half-hour outdoor outing. The zoo's tigers have temporarily been taken to other zoos during renovation work.

The zoo is hoping that the stroll will prepare the cub for the polar bear enclosure. Officials were keen to see how Flocke responded to a new environment.

Zoo spokeswoman Nicola Moegel said it was unclear whether such outings would be repeated frequently. She said the bear had not enjoyed being transported to the outdoor enclosure in a cage — "we saw that it wasn't her thing."