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Knut And Friends

Airs Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Promotional graphic for the documentary "Knut And Friends." This film tells the emotional story of Knut the polar bear and his extraordinary young life.

The world's most famous animal orphan comes to public television, with this heartwarming documentary telling the emotional story of Knut the polar bear and his extraordinary young life. Born in captivity, baby Knut was rejected by his mother, a retired circus bear, at his birth. Raised by zoo's bear-keeper, he was the first polar bear cub to survive past infancy at the Berlin Zoo for more than 30 years. Because of his emotional story and remarkable upbringing, he became an instant media sensation when he was unveiled to the global public three months later.

"Knut and Friends" follows the first year of baby Knut's life, and provides an intimate portrait of not only the baby polar bear himself - everything from his first steps to swimming lessons - but also the touching bind that developed between Knut and his keeper and surrogate parent, Thomas Dorflein.

But the story isn't only focused on Knut. Interwoven with his story are two other compelling and parallel stories. The first is Maidu, a female polar bear in the wild who has just given birth to triplets in a den beneath the arctic snow. Also, there's the story of two orphaned brown bears, only 5 months old, learning to fend for themselves after the death of their mother. The plight of polar bears in the wild, now threatened by significant climate change, and the story of the two young orphaned brown bears round out this heart-warming, informative nature documentary to make it a complete look at bears, both in the wild and natural environment as well as in captivity. But the star remains, one warm and cuddly celebrity bear, completely at the mercy of his keepers, Knut. View a photo gallery from the Berlin Zoo.

Video

Knut And Friends

Above: Watch a preview of the documentary "Knut and Friends."