A German zoo has been told it should let a baby polar bear named Knut die after it was rejected by its mother.
Knut, known as "cuddly Knut", and his twin brother were abandoned shortly after birth in December by 20-year-old Tosca, a former performing polar bear at an East German zoo.
The twin died in freezing conditions but Knut was saved and has since been hand-reared by Berlin Zoo keeper Thomas Doerflein, who sleeps by his side, bottle-feeds him and even plays Elvis Presley songs to him on a guitar, German news reports say.
Reuters says three-month-old Knut has become an unofficial Berlin city mascot and has also starred in a climate change campaign by world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.
But the case has sparked debate over whether it is right for a human to nurture a polar bear.
Animal rights activist Frank Albrecht told Germany's Bild newspaper:
"Hand-rearing a polar bear is not appropriate and is a serious violation of animal rights.
"In fact, the cub should have been killed,"he said.
However Berlin Zoo has rejected calls for Knut to be put down and says he is strong enough to go on public display soon.
"We are keeping Knut," Berlin Zoo's vet, Andre Schuele, told the BBC.
"He's staying alive. Knut was a healthy baby bear when we found him and so there was no reason for us to put him down ... And there's certainly no reason to do so now."
He said Knut was being left alone for a couple of hours each day and was slowly being weaned off the bottle to help him gain his independence.
He will eventually be introduced to other polar bears at a different zoo, the vet said.
Hat Tip: Mike's America