Knut the polar bear, who became world famous after he was hand-reared by keepers after his mother rejected him, has died at the age of four.
A spokesman for Berlin zoo, where Knut was kept, said the bear was found floating in the pool inside his enclosure.
Bear keeper Heiner Kloes said the cause of death was not known, and a post-mortem examination would be held.
In captivity, polar bears can live until they are about 30 years old.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit called Knut’s death awful.
“We all held him so dearly. He was the star of the Berlin zoos,” Mr Wowereit told BZ newspaper.
Knut became world-famous after his birth in 2006, as news of his unusual upbringing emerged.
In 2007, Knut generated more than 5m (£4.4m; $7m) euros in extra income for Berlin zoo, from the sale of tickets and Knut-branded merchandise.
As his fame grew, a row over the royalties from the bear’s popularity erupted between Berlin Zoo and Neumuenster Zoo, where he was born.
Eventually Berlin Zoo agreed to pay 430,000 euros to compensate Neumuenster.
With a blue sky and the scent of spring in the air, Saturday afternoon in Berlin was the perfect time to visit the city’s zoo, but for some 600 visitors it turned into a horror: Before their eyes, Knut the polar bear collapsed, then floated dead in the water of his pen.
“It was a completely normal day: He was with the female bears before, who had just been shut away. Then, Knut strolled around the enclosure, went into the water, had a short spasm and died,” Berlin Zoo bear keeper Heiner Kloes told the Associated Press. An autopsy will be performed on the 4-year-old mammal to determine the cause of death. Polar bears in captivity have been known to live more than 30 years.
The city is in shock. Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit told the tabloid B.Z., “This is sad news. We were all so fond of him.”
Knut became a worldwide sensation soon after he greeted the world Dec. 5, 2006, as one of twins. His mother, Tosca, had rejected both bears, and his sibling died four days later.
The little polar bear thrived when caretaker Thomas Doerflein moved into the zoo and hand-raised him. Within a few months, Knut had an instant community of fans all around the globe thanks to his black-button eyes and sweet expression, much like a stuffed animal come to life. Those cute features inspired a line of toys, puzzles, posters, T-shirts, cell-phone ringtones and even a Vanity Fair cover shoot shared with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Yet, sadness and controversy followed Knut as he grew up before the public eye. In 2008, Doerflein died suddenly of a heart attack. A year later, the Berlin Zoo settled a custody battle over Knut with the Neumunster Zoo, where the polar bear’s father Lars resides, for $600,000.
Then came the smack heard ’round the world: On Knut’s “first date” with girl polar bear Gianna, he got a little too close to his new mate (on loan from the Munich Zoo) and she let him know with a firm swat. As zookeeper Kloes said at the time, “It was as we expected it to be. Knut was very shy and the Munich bear was clearly the one wearing the dirndl.”
There was hope that the two would breed, and the polar bears seemed to have grown close, but Gianna was eventually sent back to Munich.
At the zoo Saturday, “everybody was asking, ‘What’s going on, why is Knut not moving?'” Camilla Verde, a 30-year-old Italian who lives in Berlin, told the AP. “All the zoo keepers who put up the fences were so very sad. One of them said, ‘He was our baby.'”
Knut was born on December 5th, 2006 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knut_(polar_bear)
December 5th, 2006
12 + 5 +2+0+0+6 = 25 = his life lesson = what he was here to learn = Excitement. Rooting for the underdog.
December 5th, 2006
12 + 5 = 17 = his core number = Star.
December 5th, 2006
12 + 5 +2+0+1+0 = 20 = his personal year (from December 5th, 2010 to December 4th, 2011) = Turning point.
20 year + 3 (March) = 23 = his personal month (from March 5th, 2011 to April 4th, 2011) = Physical fitness.
23 month + 19 (19th of the month on Saturday March 19th, 2011) = 42 = his personal day = Everybody loves Knut.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
how he obtained/lost his heart’s desire = KT = 22 = Zoo.