In case you are living under a rock, there was some sad news out of Berlin Zoo today.
Bird, Igel and I went to the Berlin Zoo today to pay our last respects to Knut, the polar bear. Knut captured the worlds attention and controversy when his mother rejected him and instead he bonded with his trainer, Thomas Dörflein. And by bonding, I mean doing everything that a parent does including sleeping next to the baby polar bear and staying with him round the clock.
picture from the Associated Press
Poor little Knut's life was unfortunately wrought with controversy. His rise to stardom happened when an animal activist suggested that if his mother rejected him, he should be left to die. Cries from around the world for his life luckily won over. After all, being born in an unnatural environment shouldn't mean you have to follow the harsh rules of nature.
His trainer and surrogate parent died suddenly at 44. Another trainer noticed that Knut was unable to handle life without a human audience as Knut wailed when no one was near his enclosure which prompted animal welfare activists to call for his removal. He ate 10 live carp out of his moat in front of horrified onblookers. Animal welfare activists (presumably the same ones) were again aghast. He even became the spokes-polar bear for global warming.
Bird and I visited him at least once a week since we moved here and I can honestly say I was moved to tears to see his empty enclosure this morning.
There was a small memorial for him outside the zoo which grew bigger as the day progressed.
Stuffed bears and candles added to the display.
Flowers, croissants (his favorite treat as a cub) and homemade sympathy cards started appearing in front of his empty pen.
A large group of people huddled in the front of his enclosure sobbing and looking very concerned.
Personally, Knut was a favorite of my 4-year-old, who was the same age as the bear. He was always active and doing something silly in his pen besides an added plus of being located next to the Zoo playground(which is really amazing.) Bird was fascinated by his white fur and piercing black eyes that always seemed to have something behind them more than the menacing stare of a predator.
There was lots of press there and Bird and I were even interviewed on camera although I forgot to ask what news organization they were from.
One of Bird's first toys in Berlin was something he picked out: a Schleich baby polar bear he called Knut. Poor Bird. His favorite polar bear died just as another of his favorite animals also kicked the bucket recently; the giant crocodile in the aquarium also went to that wild place in the sky.
We have had many experiences with Knut including the time Bird threw his trains at him and our first visit to the zoo which also ended up with some interesting questions concerning the elephants. (Ahhh, the Zoo-where all of life's uncomfortable questions are raised)
RIP Knut...I hope your tummy is full of fish and you have plenty of romping room wherever you are.