Some sad news I am compelled to report today. The German poster child of Arctic ice melt, polar bear Knut, died mysteriously yesterday at the Berlin Zoological Garden.
No animal had ever been so instrumentalized by the German media for the purpose of rallying attention and sympathy to the mythical plight of the polar bears in the Arctic. According to Wikipedia:
Knut (born 5 December 2006 – died 19 March 2011) was a polar bear born in captivity at the Berlin Zoological Garden. Rejected by his mother at birth, he was raised by zookeepers. He was the first polar bear cub to survive past infancy at the Berlin Zoo in more than 30 years. At one time the subject of international controversy, he became a tourist attraction and commercial success.After the German tabloid newspaper Bild ran a quote from an animal rights activist that decried keeping the cub in captivity, fans worldwide rallied in support of his being hand-raised by humans. Children protested outside the zoo, and e-mails and letters expressing sympathy for the cub’s life were sent from around the world.
Knut became the center of a mass media phenomenon dubbed “Knutmania” that spanned the globe and spawned toys, media specials, DVDs, and books. Because of this, the cub was largely responsible for a significant increase in revenue, estimated at about five million euros, at the Berlin Zoo in 2007. Zoo attendance figures for the year had increased by an estimated 30 percent, making it the most profitable year in its 163-year history. Knut died at the age of four on the afternoon of 19 March 2011.”
Unfortunately, Knut did not fare well in captivity. His chances surely would have been better if he had lived up in the Arctic (assuming no rejection by his mother), where the polar bear population has quadrupled over the last 50 years or so.
Bild tabloid today has the photos of Knut’s last moments at the Berlin Zoological Garden.
I wonder if Germany is going to declare a national day of mourning. Knut’s death is being reported everywhere. Rest in peace, Knut. Hopefully where you are now, you won’t have hordes of enviro-drones gawking at you all day long.
Am I being too hard on Knut tourists? Was there a “Brennpunkt” news special yesterday evening? Flags flying at half mast?…
Reading the controversy part of the Wikipedia account, I have to say the let-Knut-die proponents have an inhumane view. It wasn’t his fault he was born there. The keepers have a young animal on their hands, and it is their moral obligation to care for it. Sometimes I ask myself what for barbarians are out there. As short as his life was, I’m sure he had many moments of content.