March 21, 2011

A Farewell to Knut, the Polar Bear Who Charmed the World

Knut, Berlin’s world-famous polar bear who died on Saturday, wasn't just a product of the age of celebrity, he had charisma, and will be very sorely missed. David Crossland in Spiegel Online International:

Knut was a special bear because he had real character. That spring and summer of 2007, he entertained as many as 15,000 visitors a day by biting Dörflein's backside, hiding under a green blankie and chasing after a ball.
Later on, as he grew, he would stand on his hind legs with his front paws up, seemingly waving to visitors. He would even play with them, grabbing his ball with his snout and tossing it over the moat for them to throw back. He would lay on a veritable Knut Show. It may seem banal, but he had a very friendly face, far too friendly for the lethal predator he was supposed to be. That was the essence of his charm.
What remains? Berlin Zoo has said it may have Knut stuffed, but his supporters find that idea unbearable.
There has never been an animal burial at Berlin Zoo, and simply incinerating him like any other animal would seem deeply inappropriate [...].
Whatever happens to Knut's remains, the city should put up a monument in his honor, large and prominent, to remind visitors for decades to come of the bittersweet tale of an innocent bear who enchanted millions.

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