Knut: 2006 – 2011

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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.

Update: http://www.thelocal.de/society/20110320-33841.html

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6 responses to “Knut: 2006 – 2011”

  1. World Spinner

    Knut: 2006 – 2011…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. Edward

    There was more kerfuffle over the death of an octopus wasn’t there?

    Anyway, I heard knut became a bit of an effin grizzly when he grew up [not surprising – having to live behind bars].

  3. DirkH

    The octopus had precognitive skills. We value that. Betting on football games is legal in Germany.

    1. Edward

      I get it now!

  4. Ulrich Elkmann

    The death of Kund should come as no surprise. He (it?) was always more than a simple ursus arcticus – a poster child for Green sentiments, an Ecopax icon, an example of the species that stood symbolically for all the evils that Global Warming was threatening. In short, more the embodiment of a modern religious belief than a real animal – like a Mother Teresa or a Dalai Lama with paws and furs. It should surprise no one that he was likely very well attuned to all things spiritual. and the collective shock of the German populace – in their own understanding the only ones who really really care for Mother Earth – at the looming Atomic Holocaust in Japan caused such bad vibrations that it overwhelmed the poor beast. or maybe it was some ultimate warning from Above to Get It (seeing that some here in the blogosphere still refused to Read the Writing on the Wall).

  5. DALE CROSS

    We had polar bears in Auckland Zoo that lived for just over 25 years. That is much longer than they would have lived in the wild.The climate here in the summer often hot and humid [18c-30c with humidity often getting up to 90%].Winter [0c-16c].These bears can handle many climates,their tough.The global warming believers need not worry the bears have lived through climate change for hundreds of years. Lately they have been thriving.

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