copyright Berlin Zoo
Much of the world is still in shock after the loss of one of Germany's most famous celebrities at the weekend. On the afternoon of Saturday March 19th 2011, Knut the polar bear sadly passed away suddenly in front of a horrified crowd of nearly 600 people. Although it was initially suspected that he had a heart attack, new information suggests that he died from an undiagnosed brain disorder.
Knut shot to fame in 2007 when he was tragically rejected by his mother and had to be hand reared by a team of keepers at the zoo. His main keeper, Thomas Doerflein, even camped out at Berlin Zoo to ensure that Knut would get his feed every two hours. Naturally, the two formed an incredibly close bond and people began to flock to the zoo to watch bear and keeper playing together.
This beautiful little cub also attracted countless attention from the world's media, not only the way he was being so personally reared, but also the fact that his docile attitude towards humans meant that he went on to appear on magazine covers and even in a film. The Knut brand merchandise also flew off the shelves generating significantly more income for Berlin Zoo, along with the extra people that came to the zoo just to see him.
It is however, these stresses that animal groups believe led to his very sudden and extremely premature death. Within a year of being taken on by Doerflein, Knut was becoming bigger and deemed too dangerous for the keeper to interact with. Doerflein was banned from the enclosure and sadly passed away shortly afterwards at just 44, from a heart attack (although many believe he was broken hearted). At this point, Knut began exhibiting odd behaviour, almost like he wasn't getting any attention, despite the crowds of people that had come to see him.
At just 4 years and 3 months old, the need for human contact along with the fact that he wasn't interacting well with other bears, added to the depression and stress of this young polar bear, and ultimately led to his demise. Animal Rights groups claim that Knut led a short and unhappy life, and should never have been raised in the unnatural way that he was. Nevertheless, the fluffy, photogenic little cub captured people's hearts and will be sorely missed by everyone.