Knut, the still-young and much beloved polar bear, died suddenly at the Berlin Zoo. Read how how the world famous bear’s death took his zookeepers by surprise and threw a world of fans into mourning. Rest in peace young knut – your antics will be missed. – Global Animal
Kirsten Grieshaber, Salon
Berlin’s beloved polar bear Knut, an international star who as a cuddly, fluffy cub graced magazine covers, movies and merchandise, died Saturday. His death at the young age of four took zookeepers and animal experts by surprise.
The celebrity bear died suddenly in his compound at the Berlin Zoo on Saturday afternoon, bear keeper Heiner Kloes told The Associated Press. He waded into the water in his enclosure before having a short spasm and then dying in front of hundreds of zoo visitors.
While the life expectancy of polar bear in the wild is between 15 and 20 years, animals in captivity can live even longer because they are not exposed to hunger, thirst or infections. A postmortem will be conducted on Monday to try to pinpoint the cause of death, Kloes said.
“He certainly did not die of old age,” Thomas Pietsch from the Vier Pfoten group for the prevention of cruelty to animals told German news agency DAPD.
His death was met by an immediate outpouring of sorrow. As the news of Knut’s death spread through the city, more Knut fans showed up at the zoo, assembling in front of the bear compound to mourn his loss.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit called Knut’s death “awful,” telling the B.Z. daily, “we all held him so dear.”
“He was the star of the Berlin zoos,” he said.
Rejected by his mother at birth on December 5, 2006, along with his twin brother, who only survived a couple of days, Knut first attracted attention when his main caregiver, Thomas Doerflein, camped out at the zoo to give the button-eyed cub his bottle every two hours. Doerflein cuddled and played with him at daily public appearances to the delight of thousands of people who came to watch.
Fan clubs sprung up across the globe, including in Japan, the United States and Germany. Fans followed his every move, including his weight battle — he had a weakness for croissants — or plans to move to a different zoo.