Brain inflammation led to Knut's drowning, necropsy finds
Knut the polar bear cub became an international darling after he made his Berlin Zoo debut in 2007.
April 2nd, 2011
03:21 PM ET

Brain inflammation led to Knut's drowning, necropsy finds

Knut the polar bear, the star attraction at the Berlin Zoo who suddenly died March 19, drowned after falling into his swimming enclosure, investigators said Friday.

Knut had encephalitis, or severe inflammation of the brain, which caused the muscle spasms that led to his drowning, according to the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, the official German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

A pathologist with the institute said the encephalitis would have killed Knut eventually if he had not drowned.

Knut became a cultural phenomenon when he made his public debut as a cuddly cub in 2007. His mother at the zoo had rejected him at birth, so a zookeeper raised him, including administering bottle feedings, until he got big enough to feed himself.

More than 600 zoo patrons, including many children, were watching Knut when he fell into the pool, and some screamed as they realized what was happening, reported Time.com, which features a photo gallery of Knut's public life.

Several dozen people demonstrated Saturday at the Berlin Zoo to object to plans to stuff Knut's hide for display in a museum, Monsters and Critics reported.

"To put him in a stuffy museum room so he can catch dust for decades and be grabbed, fingered and stared at ... he doesn't deserve that," protester Uwe Voelkel, 53 said.

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Filed under: Animals • Bears • Germany
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Herbert

    What do you mean Joey?

    April 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey

    I apologize for the incomplete sentences, Herbert.
    Sagen had a house near Cornell University when he died. I was kidding when I asked whether you were he or not, because your clever reference was obvious.

    April 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • JAZZ

      Yes, I do remember hearing about his house near Cornell University. I live about an hour and a half away from there.

      April 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      I wanted to go to Cornell when I was in high school because I knew Carl taught there.

      April 2, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. i rock

    When i die i dont want to be stuffed just bury me with my butt in the air. .kick it kiss it or use it for a bike rack

    April 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. raven

    Born behind bars and died behind bars with never a step of freedom between. Poor bear.

    April 2, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • adm1982

      ok tell you what lets take all the zoo animals that are in captivity now and just let them all "be free". lemme know how that one works out genius.

      April 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Onion

      adm is the real "genius," completely missing the point. The point is, the animals shouldn't be in the zoo in the first place. Most of them would have survived fine in their natural habitats if they didn't grow up in a zoo. Not all of them, but we don't need so MANY zoos.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. Herbert

    @Joey oh. You seem knowledgeable @I rock, why wait. Raise your hinney plz my boot awaits

    April 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • somuchfor

      Not sure you and your friends are adding anything to the discussion–hope spring break ends soon.

      April 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Herbert

    @raven: hi

    April 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. raven

    Hey Herbie!

    April 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey

    I also believe that when I die I shall float into the universe, turn into an old man (with a name like Kier), and become "Lost in the Stars," faintly visible to every human I left on earth.
    Perhaps.
    That film made a lot of money.

    April 2, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joey

    Grazie, Herbert.

    April 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Herbert

    Grazie back.

    April 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joey

    Prego.
    Knut was a beautiful animal. I agree that it was mistreated.

    April 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sunshine Girl

    Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. How sad. I know the small childrem must've really loved him. Had they known, would his condition have been preventable? Just wondering. But thats why they call them wild animals. Because they belong in the wild, not caged up in some fake enviroment, with no where to move around. Poor bear. RIP Knut! We love love love you!

    April 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joey

    Sunshine Girl:
    When I was a small child, it didn't occur to me that animals I saw in zoos didn't belong there, no matter how much their captivity was made to seem "natural."
    Adults see that more easily.

    April 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joey

    I have friends who went to Cornell, and one who was on the faculty. I've been there only once, for a reunion. (Too much fun, almost.)
    The area is beautiful.

    April 2, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • CHastings

      I live in Ithaca...the area is beautiful, but way too crowded with the colleges. Cornell is not the only college here, but it's the one most people know about. When summer break hits and the students leave, traffic is cut in half.

      April 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Epinnoia

    Encephalitis is a symptom, not a disease. Something was causing the brain inflammation, and nowhere in this article is that even intimated. The pathology cannot be complete at this time.

    April 2, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
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