Knut, the polar bear who rose to international stardom as a fluffy white cub handreared by zoo keepers when his mother rejected him at Berlin Zoo, died suddenly aged four in his compound in front of hundreds of visitors — a death that according to the animal rights organization, could have been prevented.
“He was by himself in his compound, he was in the water, and then he was dead. He was not sick, we don’t know why he died,” said bear keeper Heiner Kloes.
In 2006, within weeks of Knut’s birth, the number of visitors to the German capital’s zoo soared and he achieved something akin to celebrity status. Knutamania ensued, with Knut merchandise flying off the shelves and the polar bear gracing the cover of many a glossy magazine, including one in pose with Hollywood star Leonardo Dicaprio.
Although the cause of his death is not yet known, Knut was reportedly bullied by other polar bears and he suffered from an attention-seeking psychological disorder, with experts saying that he was developing into a psycopath who was too dependent on human contact. When, at the age of two, his round-the-clock keeper Thomas Dörflein died of a heart attack, Knut appeared to be suffering from depression.
Although the four-year-old bear was apparently in good health when he unexpectedly collapsed on Saturday, PETA is saying that his untimely death could have been avoided. ” PETA Germany repeatedly asked zoo authorities to move Knut away from the three females to a different location. His premature death could possibly have been avoided. Polar bears don’t belong in captivity,” TMZ quoted a rep for the animal rights organization as saying.
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Read here about the cruel practice of using bear gall bladders in traditional Chinese medicine.
Images: Wikimedia Commons