In memoriam: Knut the polar bear, 2006-2011

Knut, the world’s favourite polar bear, died today at the age of 4 at the Berlin Zoo. The bear died in his enclosure at the zoo in front of over 600 visitors. It is said that he wandered in the water, spasmed and collapsed. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

Knut as a tiny cub

Knut made headlines after he and his twin brother were rejected by their mother at birth. The fluffy cub formed a special bond at the Berlin Zoo with his zookeeper, Thomas Dörflein. Dörflein hand-reared Knut, feeding him every two hours and even sleeping in his cage. The zookeeper tragically died at age 44 in 2008.

Baby Knut with zookeeper Thomas Dörflein

Knut-mania swept the world, with the tiny cub even landing on the cover of Vanity Fair with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Knut captured my heart in 2006 and I’m sad to see him go. There’s no doubt that his passing will rile up activists who claimed he should not have been kept in captivity and those who believe his stardom caused him great stress.

RIP Knut.