Knut the German Polar Bear
Knut’s short life (only four years) had been wrecked with controversy since his birth, and so it is not unexpected that greater waves of controversy have erupted since his death. All this has brought zoos under severe public scrutiny, with huge uproars over the cheap exploitation and poor welfare of the captive animals.
Baby Knut with his Keeper, Thomas Dörflein
The Berlin Zoo isn’t helping matters. Not with their announcement of their intention to stuff the bear for public display with the flimsy excuse that it would allow Knut’s fans more time to say their goodbyes to him. Many are outraged, and rightly so. This is clearly a distasteful exploitation of the public’s love for the polar bear to earn the zoo more profits.
At such a time, the Berlin Zoo needs to be sensitive towards the feelings of the public and to handle such an emotional affair with delicacy, respect and class. I understand the zoo's need to keep the money coming in, but to be so obviously money-driven at such a time is being myopic. If the Berlin Zoo does go ahead with the taxidermy, it will be a PR disaster for all zoos and more so for the ones that are doing good work in conservation and welfare.
So I say to the Berlin Zoo, please leave Knut’s body alone. Rather than taxidermy, why not set up a gallery of his films and photos? That would be enough for fans to pay tribute to the polar bear they have already given their hearts to.
You will be missed, dear Knut
*Update: Neurologists have confirmed that Knut suffered an epileptic fit that then caused him to fall into the pool and drown. They suspect that his father may have passed on a brain disorder to him. What that brain disorder is has yet to be determined.