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. ole lady

    Obviously momma bear knew something was wrong after his birth. So she did what nature does. Had he been born in the wild he would have died and no one would have known. So the zoo "saved" the cub and made a lot of money on him. So he paid for his room and board.

    April 3, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. lauradet

    Since animals can smell certain diseases, like cancer, or can sense when a human is about to have a seizure. Maybe the cubs mother abandoned Knut because she could sense that he had encephalitis. But humans interfered and did not let nature run its natural course. Natural selection needs to run its course, and humans need to stop interfering.

    April 3, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Ivanna

      There is no "natural selection," or much "nature running it's course" at the zoo. Most zoo animals have been bred in captivity or are wildlife rescues. It's not to say that some zoos keep their animals in horrific conditions, but it seems like they really cared for this animal. Knut got to have a short life with some playtime and whatnot rather than being killed by starvation or even his own mother.

      April 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Herbert

    @Amana: Our body is only the shell to our real being. Our mind, as opposed to our physical brain, is who we really are. That collective bundle of energy is what lives on, after our death.

    April 3, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. JAZZ

    Herbert another point we agree on.

    April 3, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Herbert

    OMG, Jazz? Do you ever sleep? I slept a good 8 plus hours.

    April 3, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. JAZZ

    Yes 6 hrs just woke up, going out for the day in 2hrs.

    April 3, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. Herbert

    @Barbra I know that you care about the bear. I did catch your sarcasm about the children enjoying watching his death. Very effective, I know what your saying.

    April 3, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. Herbert

    @Nerd: you missed print ff w22 and you didn't modulate the 3rd quarter.

    April 3, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. JAZZ

    @ Herbert you lie, you don't understand what he said 🙂

    April 3, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joel Raes

    any no one could spot his being sick before he died ? Seems pretty dumb to me.

    Thanks,

    Joel Raes

    April 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RUFFNUTT

    ya they spotted him... then he fell over into the water..

    April 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey

    Spock:
    I feel welcomed! I was surprised. Thank you for filling me in on some of these writers. I see lots of attention for raven, whether she wants it or not. I thought that she might have a good PR representative. Hello, raven, even without a real introduction, if you read this in Alaska. (How does Russia appear from your house?)
    Alaska is the only state I've never visited.
    Yes, Spock, I worked and just dragged myself home a few minutes ago. There was a lot of responsibility to juggle for about 8.5 hours with NO break. I watched many guys (locally translated "boys and girls together") eating beautiful lunches while I took seven minutes to "grunt"-gobble un croisant and a piece of chocolate cake–stuff I'd only consume emergently: I try to eat mostly protein. (Yes, I know the Atkins diet isn't considered so healthy by lots of citizens, especially dieticians who worship FDA food pyramids. I went to Egypt and FROZE trying to climb Cheops' pyramid.
    Trying to chill now.
    Tomorrow is the only day I have off. Sometimes I have not even one day off.

    April 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joey

    Just proofed my post. Please, don't teach me how to spell croissant: I know.

    April 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JAZZ

    Yes , Joey we won't if we like u. your good.

    April 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joey

    Grazie, JAZZ–did I read that you like Italian food? Or somebody else...

    April 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
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