Knut, the world famous polar bear, died on Saturday at the Berlin Zoo at the age of four years old. About 600 to 700 people witnessed his passing while viewing the exhibit. The cause of death is unknown.
Zoo bear keeper Heiner Kloes told The Associated Press, “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.”
An autopsy will be performed on Monday to find the cause of death.
There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the bear since his mother rejected him in 2006. He was raised by a human surrogate, became a symbol of global warming by appearing on a Vanity Fair Cover with Leonardo DiCaprio, and has brought in millions of dollars for the Berlin Zoo.
In 2010 it was reported that Knut was experiencing panic attacks, chronic stress and mimicking behaviors. Keeping animals in man made enclosures for public entertainment always has its cost on the animal’s well-being. However, the average polar bear in captivity can live for 30+ years. Knut was still just a teenager.
Many people adored that bear and are mourning his death. We’ll find out more tomorrow after the autopsy.