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, 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.

Post by:
Filed under: Animals • Bears • Germany
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Epinnoia

    While I am sure there are some differences between human and polar bear physiology, I am also quite confident that there are enormous similarities. If you take a look at the web page for 'encephalitis' for humans, you will see there are any number of causes. Often it is viral, but certainly it isn't the only cause. Humans have been known to get encephalitis through 'An allergic reaction to vaccinations' according to the NIH website. Did Knut receive a vaccination shortly before this happened?

    April 2, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Epinnoia

      A bit of investigating, and it appears that they SUSPECT an infection - probably viral. But that is just speculation.

      April 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |

    I swear, every time I read these CNN blog comments, RUFFNUTT is one of the first to reply. And it's always something insulting, portrayed as a "joke". That first comment he made was childish and an insult to this animals life.

    Conclusion: RUFFNUTT change your screen name to DUMBNUTTS. Maybe then I might take your ignorant, childish comments as a joke. You are weird, creepy and ignorant.

    April 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      it's some 13 yr old that uses multiple screen names.....has conversations with himself. The worst childish troll I've ever seen.

      April 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |

      You must get on the same time i do cause i havent posted in a almost a week..

      i was busy trying to get bayer asprin to make a bear sized bear asprin for bears..

      they said the problem was inventing a bear-child proof container..

      April 3, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. charity

    That is so sad

    April 2, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. megagadha

    cute even in death; beats a human anytime:)

    April 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jody

    What a wonderful life...would you sacrafice your freedoms to bring joy and wonder to so many...Knut was given a the wild, he would have less chance at survival...he was rejected by his mother...humans stepped in and provided opportunity...i am not educated on Knut or his majestic life, but i wonder if his mother rejected him because she detected a defect which would shorten his life

    April 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kay Double You

    Stuff the keepers. -- I (a health care professional) fail to understand how a valued (monetarily or "otherwise") animal could be so ill and have that escape detection or notice. You'd think they'd have given a bit more preventative attention to a living creature whose sire was known to have epilepsy. Nevertheless, it just seems – macabre – to display his remains.

    April 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • adm1982

      just curious but when was the last time you tried to give a 600 pound + polar bear an mri or a head ct??? i really love it when the arm chair quaterbacks think they know whats best.

      April 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaMeglet

      Seriously? As a worker in the veterinary field, I can tell you it's very easy to miss. Giving a CT scan to an animal is not as simple as sending them down the street to the hospital for some tests. And try getting clearance to do something that expensive on a hunch. I might also add that spotting the symptoms would have been a challenge in itself. You see, stuff like this doesn't usually go unnoticed in human medicine because humans can do things like, oh, I don't know, open their mouths and say, "Hey I got a headache that won't go away."

      April 2, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    the animal aborts the sick child

    April 2, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. suzy diamond

    Stuffing dead animals is nuts! They should be respected like any living thing and should be either cremated or buried. I hope they do NOT do this!

    April 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      I agree , seems you all got off the topic at at hand. This is a Berlin revenue project to stuff this bear and no more. I just wonder if us humans missed something these few years in Knuts behavior that could have been a clue to his ailment. It must have been a real pleasure for the children to see him die.

      April 3, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. ThomasD

    I agree, Suzy. I hope we've evolved beyond the need for such a display.

    April 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lyle Conniff

    hey, why throw away the whole carcass? have him stuffed, use him for an educational purpose. besides, they are good eating

    April 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HRPufnstuf


    April 2, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    Some people will protest anything, unbelievable.

    April 2, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gary

    @T3. Show off, what does that long word mean anyway?

    April 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DaMeglet

    Poor guy. I wonder if it was a condition he was born with? Maybe that's why Mamma rejected him. It's not unusual for wild animals to reject/kill their offspring when they know something's wrong with them. Still, I'm glad we intervened so we could get to know him... Better to have loved and lost...

    April 2, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6