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Polar bear sensation Knut immortalized in Berlin museum

John MacDougall / AFP - Getty Images

The sculpture of polar bear Knut is exhibited at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin on on Feb. 15.

Markus Schreiber / AP

Late polar bear Knut is on display at the Natural History Museum in Berlin, on Feb. 15. Knut was hand-raised after his mother rejected him. He rose to stardom in 2007 as a cuddly cub, appearing on magazine covers, in a film and on mountains of merchandise. He died in 2011 after suffering from encephalitis.

Reuters -- Knut, the hand-reared polar bear who captured Germans' hearts before his early death in 2011, returned to his adoring Berlin public on Friday as a life-sized model bearing the animal's real fur.

Knut will stand for a month in the entrance foyer of the city's natural history museum, which has modified its entrance for the anticipated rush of visitors, a museum spokeswoman said.

The museum is keen to stress that Knut has not been stuffed. Rather, a replica of the bear was made, based on Knut's skeleton, in one of his favorite poses, and this was covered with the creature's pelt, in a procedure known as dermoplasty.

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Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

Knut plays with a blanket during the bear's first presentation in Berlin zoo on March 23, 2007.