Custom Search

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knut is dead: Beloved polar bear collapses and dies in front of 600 visitors

By Daily Mail Reporter

Bear keeper Heiner Kloes from the zoo said the four-year-old was alone in his compound. He says the cause is not yet clear

Knut, the world-famous polar bear, collapsed and died in front of 600 visitors at Berlin Zoo this afternoon.

The bear rose to stardom when he was hand-raised by zoo keepers after being rejected by his mother at birth.

Bear keeper Heiner Kloes from the zoo said the four-year-old was alone in his compound. He says the cause is not yet clear.

'He was by himself in his compound, he was in the water, and then he was dead,' said Mr Kloes. ' He was not sick, we don't know why he died.'

A post mortem will be conducted on Monday to try pinpoint his cause of death, he said.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit called Knut's death 'awful'.

'We all held him so dearly,' he told daily newspaper B.Z. 'He was the star of the Berlin zoo.'

Knut with the keeper Thomas Doerflein who cared for him when the bear's mother rejected him. Mr Doerflein died of a heart attack three years ago

The polar bear rose to global fame after he was rejected by his mother when he was born in captivity on December 5, 2006. The fluffy cub was shown to the public 15 weeks later, and attendance at the zoo has roughly doubled since, officials said.

The resulting 'Knutmania' led to a 2007 Vanity Fair cover with actor Leonardo DiCaprio shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Though the zoo has never released exact numbers, Knut merchandise including postcards, key chains, candy and stuffed Knuts have brought in hundreds of thousands of euros.

Although Knut was the first polar bear to be born and survive at Berlin Zoo in more than 30 years, his tragic young life was blighted by tragedy from the start.

Both he and his twin were rejected by their mother at birth and his unnamed brother died four days later.

But Knut amazed medical staff at the zoo by clinging to life. After spending his first 44 days in an incubator, he was put in the care of zoo keeper Thomas Dörflein, who began raising the infant with round-the clock care.

News of the cub's miraculous survival was picked up by the world's media and the young cub became the zoo's top attraction.

But tragedy struck again before Knut's second birthday in 2008, when Mr Dorflein died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 44.

Observers noted that the bear appeared to suffer from depression in the weeks after his beloved keeper and constant companion died.

Experts had earlier warned that the Knut was developing into a 'psychopath' who was too dependent on human contact.

In 2009 Knut was the subject of a bitter custody battle between two zoos.

Neumuenster Zoo had loaned Berlin Zoo Knut’s father Lars in 1999 on the condition that the first-born cub from his union with mother Tosca would belong to Neumuenster.

And last year Knut's cousin died after a mystery virus spread through the zoo's bear enclosure.

A life in pictures... How rejected bear won the world's heart

In the beginning: Knut began life in an incubator at the Berlin Zoo, Germany, after his 20-year-old mother Tosca showed a complete lack of motherly instinct and abandoned him and his twin brother

All alone: Knut was the only one to pull through after his twin brother died. Bottle fed and showered with human affection, his 'little-boy-lost' look melted everyone's hearts

Feeding time: 'Tiny', 'fluffy' and 'adorable' are just a fraction of the adjectives thrown at the bear as journalist fell over themselves to gush about the animal superstar

Ooh, this guy's good: Knut was a public relations atom bomb for the Berlin zoo. Even while sleeping, the bear was eminently photographable

Pop star of the polar bears: While Knut was a massive hit with the public, German newspapers reported that he was bullied by fellow bears, and scientists said he suffered from an attention-seeking psychological disorder

Felling off colour? Knut two days before his second birthday. Despite social and psychological problems, zoo officials said he was suffering no obvious health problems up until the day he suddenly died

Popular: Knut plays with a branch at the Berlin Zoo last year. He attracted thousands of visitors

Death of a salesman: Postcards, calenders, pictures, books and other collectibles turned a tidy profit duing Knut's life. If he's like any other star, the value will only increase

Knut's fame grew to such an extent that he was featured on a set of stamps issued by the German Post Office



Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger