Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Knut- Case Shut!

News has been received that Berlin Zoo's popular Polar bear Knut has died (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12805534 ) at just over 4 years of age (as opposed to the 30 years they can live in captivity). The original fuss about the bear concerned the alledged plan to euthanize him on the basis of his being seriously under-weight. His 'cuteness' led to a campaign to 'save him' and he became an international 'star'. Strangely, the bear died shortly after his Elvis Presley playing keeper died of a heart attack after being banned from 'playing' with Knut, as the bear was deemed too large for safety considerations. The episode has stimulated a renewed debate about the appropriateness of keeping Polar bears in captivity (although melting of the polar ice cap might result in that being the only place they could survive). One negative factor might have been Knut's being housed with 3 females. Polar bears are generally solitary unless they are engaged in breeding.

STOP PRESS The bear apparently drowned after 'fitting' from encephalitis. The claim is that there were no signs of 'stress' but that is difficult to rule out entirely.

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