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. Jeff Frank - Ohio

    Don't buy gas on Fridays....EVER.

    April 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Our world

    If this had been in the US schools would have had counselors available for any kid that needed it. I don't know how previous generations survived. Now even teenagers are offered counselors to deal with the death of a classmate they didn't even know. Parents not needed.

    April 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BlackYowe

    I still think he had Listeriosis (Circling Disease) which he would have gotten from contaminated salmon or fish. This zoo has lost other animals to listeriosis. They may have even fed the bear meat from the animals that died of it as they were deer and camelids. Zoos have big problems with hygiene.

    April 3, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. jigga

    its a effin bear people, people die everyday and we talking about a bear, man eff that bear!! if Id of been there Id of laughed so hard!!

    April 3, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. Yes we can!

    He would make a nice rug. More functional. Stuffing him would be a waste. Hell, he's not coming back no matter what you do, so. . .

    April 3, 2011 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. RosaRose

    Love the Joke Ruffnutt...i was "bearly" able to control my laughter. I drink to that "bear bottoms up"

    April 3, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. Karen

    Leave that poor bear alone!!! At least let him have some peace in the afterlife!

    April 3, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. KansasJoe

    So much for all those people who said his mother rejected him because she sensed a defect in him. Nobody ever waits for the evidence.

    April 3, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Onion

      Even if she did, that doesn't mean his life wasn't valuable, which is what they seem to be implying. People are cruel.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. brenda

    Hello Kay Double You & Suzy Diamond I agree with you 100% Let the poor bear rest in peace without having to stuff him. Its gross. Xoxo

    April 3, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joey

    A rug has a purpose. By a fire on a winter night, a bearskin rug is a good place for some things, for some.
    A stuffed animal is not much more than a curiosity.
    Embalmed popes bring visitors to the Vatican. Mummies brought visitors to the museum in Cairo before they served demonstrating vandals.
    Displayed bodies of saints have inspired even me.
    Nobody killed Knut to produce a rug.
    I wonder what Knut's mentation regarding this subject would be, if it existed.
    BTW, if one doesn't understand a big word, as somebody above complained, one learns by examining its components.

    April 3, 2011 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Spock

    Good morning Joey. Have noticed your posts since yesterday. Truly interesting.

    April 3, 2011 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. joe

    in a glass case.. he'll be fine.. the tear jerkers.. p iss off.. rip knut...

    April 3, 2011 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joey

    Good morning Spock.
    Thanx.
    I have to get to work. I wanted to check in to see whether I got a bite on a line I put out–didn't–and now I have to make my turkey-and-eggs breakfast.
    Back later.

    April 3, 2011 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. Spock

    Joey for when you get from work,here is a small scoop for you. Philip is similar to you. He posts and has relevant information. He is friendly and knows what he is talking about. raven is an amazing wonderful woman from Alaska. She tries to keep a low profile, but not easy in her case. She is into good health, generosity, and good will toward all. She does not like attention, but she gets some anyway. Those are my two favorite posters. Also everybody's name gets hi-jacked sooner or later. When it happens to you, and it will, do not get discouraged. Good-bye Joey.

    April 3, 2011 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. sockpuppet

    Clearly something was wrong with him, which is why his mother rejected him in the first place. It's sad he died, but I swear, the hysterical comments I see all over the internet about the death of a bear is bizarre. He wasn't a "pet" to anyone but the zoo staff (in a sense)–the public didn't bond with him or spend time with him on a daily basis–so it's a rather extreme over-reaction. I would like to see that sort of reaction when human beings die.

    April 3, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
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