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Knut the Polar Bear Dies

posted 19 Mar 2011, 13:46 by Mpelembe   [ updated 19 Mar 2011, 13:48 ]

Keepers and visitors to the Berlin zoo say that the death of polar bear Knut was "shocking"

BERLIN, GERMANY (MARCH 19, 2011) REUTERS - It was a perfect spring day on Saturday (March 19) - the sun was out, inviting families for a trip to one of the cities' attraction - at the Berlin zoo. But for some visitors the day turned into something of a tragedy. One of the city's best known animals, polar bear Knut, collapsed and was found floating dead in the water of his pen.

"The shock was big as you can imagine, when we realised that [the dead polar bear] was Knut," Berlin Zoo

bear keeper Heiner Kloes told Reuters Television. "We always said that Knut is one of the many animal here at the zoo. But he was a little bit more than that. He was a personality which kept us fascinated for a long while. And we formed relationships [with him]."

He said that Knut was still in the water and would be taken out later in the day.

Visitors were equally shocked when they heard the news.

"I mean that Knut was some sort of figurehead for the zoo and he won over a million hearts," visitor Jens Vogt said. "He wasn't just any animal like all the others but he was 'our' Knut and we all wanted to know whether he would survive, the drama about his keeper who also died much too young. And now Knut himself. Yes, it is tragic and we are sorry. Of course, we are moved by this."

Some had only come to the zoo to see Knut, like Lisa Maibohm.

"We could not believe it at first," she said. "We thought it was a joke. It is very tragic, we didn't expect this," she said

Knut became a media star just after his birth on December 5, 2006, when his mother rejected him.

Zookeepers had to care for the orphaned animal.

An autopsy is scheduled to determine a cause of death.