I want to tell you all about what it's like to be at the zoo--it is a lovely and very accessible habitat. You walk along and the animals are so close. It is a world of its own and the outside world does not exist...that is how it felt for me...
My first day (Mon) was rainy and almost no one was at the zoo. I saw Ernst and his mom--it is brown velvety soft looking--so cute! Then Lars appears next! At first he had his back to me. I said, "Hello, Lars!" He turned around and looked at me. He then said, "Do you know where the babes are?" I told him that they were in the dens. He walzed over to the dens and sniffed around, looking sad and dejected...poor soul....handsome devil, tho'...
Then there were the wolves and then the brown bears and then KNUT!! OMG! In the fur! No one was there but me! Oh, joy! Hello, babyboy, I said; it's me, Auntie Judy! He came walzing over and looked directly at me! (Well, of course he did; no one else was there!) HELLOOO, buddy! He really did get as close as he could to me...We had a lovely first visit...he was so beautiful and multi-colored and full of charm. He was so close! And animated and adorable. And smaller in person! He has THE cutest everything but especially the paws and the ears and the tushie. I cooed unabashedly and spoke sweet nothins' in his ears...
Would you believe me if I told you a rainbow appeared that first visit? Well, it did. And the boy stood up and waved. Knuti had no toys at the moment so he played with a leaf! When it landed in the water he did his water pedaling trick to get it back--wouldn't go into the water, tho'. Finally gave up on the leaf and went up to the mulchbett for a rest. I said, "see you tomorrow, buddy!"
And off we went to the Christmas market near by and had 1/2 meter bratwurst for dinner...oh, my; very good and very long!
We stayed at a hotel nearby on the K'damm--lovely place that once was a mansion. Starbuck's was at the corner; we felt like it was home away from home.
Oh, Christmas in Berlin! It is a beautiful city made more beautiful with the Christmas lights. The trees that lined the streets all had white lights in them....a very quiet city...really lovely. The antiquity of Europe always impresses me....so beautiful the buildings are...one after another.....and the shopping! OMG! Steiff right across from our hotel...hello, Knuti!! (My xmas present from my knutsband)....
P.S.: Did I tell you about meeting Liesel and Marion? Oh, my the photoaunties of the world! Liesel is full of personality and very friendly. Marion is charming and after spending time with her I wanted to bring her home with me.....More on what she did later!
Well, day 2 was Tuesday--pick up the scarves day! Met so many knutians at the zoo restaurant! Oh, we had coffee and lots of homemade cookies! It was the start of the birthday festivities!
On this day I waited with Knuti for daddy to come and feed him. Well, Papi snuck up and the next thing I knew there were fish and grapes and lettuce and a golden pear being sent Knuti's way--Oh, joy--lunch time!
And our boy takes quick action--gobbling the salad, having a fruit course, diving for fish and ripping into that sushi--why wait for rolls? And when the grapes were finished there was always the stem to play with! And boy did he have a time with that stem! The boy knows how to entertain himself so well...
And you know what's so interesting about TD feeding Knuti? Well, he makes it to the glass wall silently and tosses the food without a word--and then he stands there for several minutes and watches Knuti intently. His concentration is totally on the bear...wonder what he's thinking....but this is exactly what he is like. So in the moment; so focused; so centered.
And then who shows up on his bike but Doc Schuele--looking exactly like himself--oh, perhaps a little taller and a little more handsome than himself, but basically...himself!
Oh, it was fun to finally meet Barbara, Webbiene, Sanna, Christoph, Liesel, Anne Marie, Hildegard, Dumba, and many more--and, of course, JAZMIN! Oh, my what a lovely lady. Such a beautiful smile and a beautiful person.
And this was the day I received my Knuti scarf and haven't parted with it since....Yes, I do plan to wear it to work tomorrow. And to bed...
Day 3, December 5th 2000andknut
Happy Birthday, Knuti! I arrived at your place to see a crowd of people awaiting the 11 a.m. festivities. The media was out in full force. Just like the good ole days!
Papi and Uncle Ronnie brought out your cake and quietly disappeared. You made your grand entrance and nibbled your way around the cake and enjoyed toppling over the wooden candle with the #1 on it. That brought cheers from the crowd. I think you enjoyed the tray the cake was on as much as the cake itself! Oh, how you played with that tray; you even tried to make it squeak, you funny one!o
The zoo director, Herr Blah-Blah spent a good deal of time blah-blah-ing--oh, how he droned on and on...Doc Schuele was standing by and behind us in the kittie play area, sweet voices sung happy birthday to you.
Then all of a sudden the formal festivities were over and some people began milling about and some leaving and the media started swarming around....
The next thing I knew I had cameras and microphones and people interviewing me left and right. Jazmin and Birgitte, too. Lots of questions and some shear amazement that we were here to see a bear about a birthday. We were interviewed by so many people, Jazmin and I got the giggles--how did this happen? A young man from Spiegel was so diligent that he wrote down everything I said. A Swedish newspaperman was there, AP, RBB and several other alphabets including Reuters who interviewed Jazmin. It was totally unexpected and quite something--lots of giggle material there. Then the media left and we could get back to normal and enjoy the bear and the birthday.
At the zoo restaurant we met Admin Doro and Admin Torsten and enjoyed cookies and lots of treats including cute polar bear everythings--napkins, candles, cookies--adorable. What fun it was to be together and celebrate our boy's very special day together. Barbara did a wonderful job with the festivities.
Oh, it was festive and very knutian and wonderful. It was very funny being introduced to Admin Torsten--he asked my name and I said, "Knuti-Judi." Well, he turned beet red and laughed. I don't know why...really...
At feeding time, we went and watched TD feed those really cute, funny looking guys with the snouted noses and stripped tails. TD had a tray neatly filled with sliced bananas, peanuts and topped with velvety mousies--yum, yum! How cute these little guys are. They crawl all over TD and this delights him. The sneaking a mousie into his pocket delights the animals who go after the mouse in the pocket--their game...TD sits and strokes and tweaks their noses and stays with them during the frenzy of eating and when that dies down, he gets up, takes the tray and places the rest of the food down for them and off he goes.
We ran into TD along the walkway after the feeding and Hildegard was talking to him and I found out later that she was asking him if she could give the giant bear cookie she had in a shoebox to him to give to Knuti. TD said, no, Knuti was not used to sweets and the cookie would give him diahrea. Hildegard was a bit disappointed but understood.
So here I am standing next to her and said to myself, "Self? This is your opportunity to give TD your cards." So I summoned up the courage and found my voice and I said, "Herr Dorflein?" and he turned to me and said, "Hello." I have NO idea what I said after that but I think I managed to convey to him that I had a birthday card for Knuti and a card for him thanking him for taking such good care of the boy. He said, "Thank You" and stowed the cards in his pants pocket. Thomas is very soft-spoken and looks you right in the eye and does not lose eye contact. He has a lovely smile...
We continued on the walkway going towards Lars. Hildegard was fanning me and wondered if she remembered CPR....she then said, "You know Ronnie is my favorite." Well, the next thing you know we round the bend and there is Ronnie standing right there bigger than life. I said to Hildegard, "Why don't you offer the cookie to Uncle Ronnie?"--well that is exactly what she did. He smiled sweetly and said Thank you (of course in German). Then we continued on to Lars and I think I administered CPR correctly as Hildegard revived nicely.
Shortly after we were making our way to Ernst and ran into Doc Schuele who was having a conversation with a few knutians including Birgitte and talking about Knuti and the need to find him a new home so that he can start his own family someday. Doc S. speaks English beautifully.
At 3 p.m. Barbara supplied us with sparklers and I lit mine and held it up high (caught Knuti's attention, too!) and said to him, "Knuti, Happy Birthday from all the knutians from the U.S." Then I mentioned each person by name and blew kisses over the moot right over to our Knuti smack in the face! It was a gorgeous moment.
Then back at the zoo restaurant we toasted Knuti with champage and said "Happy Birthday and Long Live King Knut!" OH, it was a glorious day and full of warmth and love for the icebearboy.
And that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
The day after Knuti's birthday continued to be festive with the knutians still around in full force. We would run into each other at various spots including the restaurant and Knuti's enclosure and feeding times with other animals.
Knuti had a new jutebag today and he was sleeping next to it when I first saw him on Thursday--of course resting after his big day! And then the workout with the jutebag began! So adorable. And then he started pounding on it with his whole, complete being! Oh, joy! I'm in heaven....squeak, squeak!
Apparently when Thomas gave Knuti the jutebag earlier in the morning, he watched from the side fence and and laughed at Knuti and his antics--you see? It never gets old!
Close encounter with Thomas #2: So, there I am outside the Souvenir shop picking out postcards of our boy when up comes Thomas--I turned to him and said, "Hello" (brilliant, no?) and he turned to me and gave a 100 watt smile and said, Hello! (Do not care what you're thinking; it was my moment and I loved it, thank you very much!)
Friday, Friday, Friday! Mervi, Mervi, Mervi!
Oh, joy! Mervi's here! Oh, what fun we had watching the boy and pinching ourselves to make sure it was real! We had another party meeting and greeting knutians and calling out--It's Mervi! Come meet Mervi!
Well, as we were watching the icebear, I noticed the sole remains of the birthday, the candle--there by its lonesome was the wooden birthday candle--I had to take a picture of it. That prompted Knuti to fetch the candle and engage in a playbout that was just charming.
Oh, he would carry the candle around in his mouth and take it to various spots on his enclosure--seemed to really bond with that candle! And then! Guess what! It fell down and down and into the moot...
Now, mind you, up until this day Knuti went through all his positions and poses and cuteness with standing up on his hind paws and waving; wiggling around on the mulchbett; eating his meal with finesse; playing with his jutebag--all the wonderful knutiness we all love--and he gladly gave us samples of each.
However...Knuti had not yet been in the water since I'd been at the zoo! One of the knutians commented that he was "water shy." Well, he certainly appeared so! You've all seen it....he come close to the water--maybe paddles it with his paws...but be very careful not to go in or get wet! So funny!
Well, our icebear wanted that candle....what to do! what to do! He comes down to the edge of the water and clearly the candle is not within paddling distance. He walks back and forth; you could see the wheels turning in his head....I really want that candle; I'm gonna have to go in to get that candle...here I go; I'm going in...no, wait, no, I'm not going in....I'm going IN!
Well, someday when you see my pictures you will see the boy and his dilemma--he eventually goes in neck and head first and then the rest of him follows--ADORABLE! And off he goes after the candle which prompts a wonderful EXUBERANT playtime in the water!
Oh, joy! He is swimming and diving and jumping up to the glass wall! "Ick bin Knut!" I am in heaven!!! Heaven, I tell you! Oh, Knuti, you do not disappoint....He is truly amazing in the water. I could hardly stand it! And my favorite picture caught him with a beautiful, bright ball in his mouth and the candle in his paws!
Oh, Mervi & Jazmin, you were there! You saw it all! And then the heavens opened up and it RAINED. All of us at the glass wall with our umbrellas. Our faithful hubbies in the rear getting soaking wet....what good guys.....
Mervi turned to me and says, "If someone told you a year ago you'd be standing here in the rain looking at a polar bear....." And I finished the thought: "I'd have told them they were nuts!" And we laughed happily and turned back to the bear ignoring the rain....I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.....
And then Papi came to feed the boy and the fish and grapes and pears consumed our boy's attention....and that was another wonderful day at the zoo with the best icebearboy in the world........
In the afternoon, a white vehicle with red letters pulls up to the enclosure. Knuti is well aware of this vehicle and turns to me and says, "Oh, it's the RBB people...that means it's Friday...you know, An Evening Look time...pardon me while I go to makeup and prepare"...and then our boy puts on a show while he is taped....
One of the knutians attempted to engage George Berger by telling him (they were right next to us) that I was from Ct. Well, George shakes his head and says, "I know." (In other words--old news, lady! The interview on Wed. was one thing...but you know the media--you get old fast!)
Today was cold with some sun, though. Mervi found me at the glass wall at Knuti's enclosure and was convinced that I'd spent the night as I was in the exact spot she'd left me at! That spurred images in my mind of curling up on the mulchbett with our icebearboy--oh, joy! that would be so sweet!
Knuti was working out with his jutebag today and carrying it around for important reasons only he knows about...played squeakie with it to everyone's delight!
We visited your daddy, Lars today and your neighbors the bears with the fuzzy ears and your pal, Ernst. Christoph took me to see little Paul and his momma, Debby. They were inside in their spa swimming and having a lovely time--how cute is that little guy!
Had a lovely visit with photoauntie extraordinaire, Marion. She is so gentle and dear. We went over to the nosebears for their feeding. Marion says they always get fed first. As we are awaiting TD, Marion says, "Hear the gate close? He's coming now." And sure enough, TD appears moments later with the tray of food for the little guys. Feeding takes place without words. TD communes with the little guys and smiles and they romp around while they eat. TD pats them and tweaks their snouts!
Then we watched Papi feed you, Knuti--fish and grapes and salad (no dressing). Then you had another play bout. Papi stayed a long time today and watched you at the glass wall. He chatted with the people around him, answered questions, turned when this man with a telephoto lens in his face asked for a picture...
Marion says that TD has become much more comfortable and at ease in this role over time. She said that at one time, TD would have a straight face and give people short answers. Now he is patient and pleasant--even when people say really dumb things like: "He doesn't really DO anything, does he?" (Can you imagine? Some people really don't get it, do they? Sorry, sorry people.)
Anyway, TD stayed a long while at the enclosure that day. He stepped back away from the wall and had a smoke break and continued to talk with people, sign autographs & hang out.
Marion and Jazmin and I were right there. Marion asked us if we would like to have a picture with TD. Jazmin and I both said we would but were too shy to ask him. Can you imagine? Here we were on Wed. talking to the media from all over--no problem yaking about our Knuti and being effusive and outrageous--but ask TD if he'll take a picture? No way, baby. No can do. Don't make me...Marion, sweet, Marion, said, "Would you like me to ask him?" Here is Jazmin and me as if we are in eighth grade, I tell you. "Oh, yes, please."
And she asks him and he says yes. And dear Marion takes a picture of each of us with TD--one with her camera and one with mine. O.K., I blacked out for that one. The man had his arm around me. The hand that knuddles Knuti was touching my arm!! I haven't washed since....How old am I?
Gave photoauntie Marion a big hug goodbye; so enjoyed her company...
And dear Barbara and Christoph saved me on that last day of visiting Knuti. I don't do goodbyes well and was dreading having to say goodbye to our boy--so I didn't. They were off to see the lion cubs and invited me along. I trotted off with them and enjoyed a lovely visit with the cubs and left the zoo thru the beautiful elephant exit and felt really happy, not sad at all. I had six days with Knuti and enjoyed hours of fun with him. It isn't goodbye, baby boy, but see you later, buddy!
My trip to ZooBerlin was beyond expectations! It was glorious! I love the bear.
See and read everything around Knuti's birthday (the sites open in new window)
ZDF (Barbara, TD)
ZDF (Knuti-Judi in the beginning, TD, Doc Schuele)
RTL ((Tina + 2 other "blog-collegues" - sorry, don't know their names (blond one Angelika?/ dark one sisignora or Laura?), scarf, TD, kurz Ronny Henkel - Dr. Schuele – Heiner Kloes)
FAZnet – reuters (Jazmin in the end, TD, Dr. Blaszkiewitz)
DW-TV = Nettes Video / nice video (TD + Heiner Kloes)
RBB-zibb (Admin Torsten in the end)
ZDF-Drehscheibe (TD, Dr. Ragnar Kuehne)
International press/ Internationale Presse:
Schweden (Judy, Brigitte, Christine + Jazmin genannt/mentioned)
Det fanns mer långväga gäster än så. Brigitte Vincent-Smith hade kommit från Ottawa i Kanada, Judy Lydecker kom från Connecticut i USA och Jasmine Sambrano hade rest ända från Caracas i Venezuela.
Türkei (Jazmin + Judy genannt/mentioned)
Knut'u gördüğünde sevinç gözyaşı döktüğünü belirten Sambrano, "Knut barışın savaştan daha güçlü olduğunu gösteren bir sembol" dedi. ABD'den Judy Lydecker, Knut'u ilk defa geçen eylül ayında gördüğünü ve çok etkilendiğini, doğum gününe gelmeye kendini sorumlu hissettiğini söyledi.
Spiegel (Gudrun, Christine, Jazmin genannt/mentioned)