Main | Sunday, March 20, 2011

GERMANY: Knut Dies Unexpectedly

Knut, the polar bear who as a cub captured the hearts of the world and sold millions in plush toys for the Berlin Zoo, died unexpectedly yesterday at the age of four.
"Everyone is just in shock here," said Claudia Bienek, a spokeswoman for Berlin Zoo where Knut shot to global fame in 2007 as a photogenic snow-white cub after being rejected by his mother and reared by hand. Knut, pulled dead from a pool in his enclosure he shared with three females on Saturday afternoon, was just four years and three months old, well below the average life expectancy for polar bears of around 35. The cause of Knut’s untimely death was not immediately known, said Heiner Kloes, in charge of bears at Berlin Zoo. Vets were due to conduct an autopsy on Monday. The BZ daily quoted zoo visitors as saying that Knut was sitting on rocks in his enclosure when his left leg began to shake. He then started walking around in circles before falling into the water.
I was in Berlin a few years ago during the height of the Knut craze and his likeness had been stamped on just about anything a tourist could carry. The one souvenir that made it into my suitcase was a small toy Knut for my nephew. He's going to be devastated.

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