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RIP, Thomas Dörflein

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Thomas Dörflein, surrogate father to everyone’s favorite polar bear, Knut, passed away yesterday. Seriously ill for some time, Dörflein was 44.

When Knut was rejected by his mother, Tosca, in 2006, Dörflein provided care for the cub 24/7, even sleeping in the same cage with him. Just last year the zoo decided to split the pair on the grounds that it was simply too dangerous for the zookeeper to play with the now-600 pound bear.

While some animal rights activists denounced the “adoption” and said the bear would be better off dead–and that he currently shows signs of disturbing behavior–I applaud anyone who would devote so much time and energy into saving another living creature like that. Dörflein was awarded the Medal of Merit by the city of Berlin for his efforts in raising little Knut.

What do you think? Should Knut have been raised differently, or at all, by humans?

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