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Berlin Zoo Puts Media Darling Knut on a Diet

Being a child star can take its toll. Few are the pint-sized performers who reach adulthood unscarred. More common are the youthful tales of substance abuse, eating disorders and therapy, like those now faced by Knut.

So tell me, really -- does this fur make my butt look big?

It seems the public has an endless appetite for tales of glory gone sour. Now, the latest celebrity to fall prey to this taste for schadenfreude is Knut, the irresistibly cuddly polar bear cub that was born in the Berlin Zoo just eight months ago.

At the time, no one could have predicted the adorable ball of white fluff would soon be vying for headlines -- and therapy clinic time -- with Drew, Lindsay, Britney & co. But perhaps they should have seen it coming.

Tough at the top

So what caused "cute Knut's" inevitable downfall among Berlin's animal adoring public? Pills? Booze? Scientology?

'Cute Knut' back when he was, well, cuter

Think again: earlier this week, the zoo announced that Knut -- an irresistible, cuddly, and extremely photogenic ball of white fluff whose every development has been avidly documented (some say exploited), since he was introduced to the world in December -- is being put on a diet.

It seems the bear has been packing on the pounds -- an unsightly development for a celebrity, even of the ursine persuasion. Now, Knut's four daily meals are being cut down to three.

Call it the South Pole Diet.

Survival reserves, or unsightly love handles?

"If Knut lived outdoors this wouldn't be so bad -- he would simply build up his fat reserves for winter," zoo veterinarian Andreas Ochs told news services on Tuesday. But in captivity, Ochs said, the extra weight is unnecessary.

Knut currently is fed a baby-bear diet of porridge, milk, meat, cod liver oil, and supplements, but he will soon graduate to grown-up bear food: fish and solid meat.

"Extras like croissants will need to be dropped," Ochs said, adding French pastries to the list of foods no one previously knew were fed to zoo animals.

Bonaduce, take note

The zenith of fame: a Vanity Fair cover

While the bear's fall from grace may not be on as big a scale as some -- after all, Knut is no Danny Bonaduce -- his story can still serve as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of fame and greed.

One day you're on the cover of Vanity Fair, the next its Weight Watchers Magazine.

How did this all come about? As Knut's long-haired keeper -- himself a much-photographed celebrity of sorts since he introduced his protegee to the world -- told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper that the bear's dietary dilemma results from a common problem.

"Knut likes to nibble between meals," he said.

DW.DE