From New York Post
BERLIN — Knut, the world’s best known polar bear, is to be stuffed and put on display in a Berlin museum, allowing fans a chance to say their farewells to the animal.
The news came Tuesday as a team of veterinarians tried to define the cause of the four-year-old bear’s death. Three vets took part in the examination of the 300kg (661lb) animal, and were accompanied by a taxidermist to ensure that Knut’s fur was not damaged in the process.
The stuffed polar bear will be placed in the Berlin Natural History museum, close to the world’s largest dinosaur skeleton, The Times of London reported.
The autopsy on the beloved bear found traces of brain damage but until cell samples are examined more closely it will not be clear whether Knut was suffering from early onset dementia or a tumor.
The immediate cause of his Saturday death was drowning — the bear started to turn in circles in his compound, was seen to suffer a spasm in his right rear leg and then plunged unconscious into a moat.
Knut’s brain damage will not quash the debate in Germany about the bear’s treatment by the zoo management though. Frank Albrecht, an animal rights activist, said that the death may well have been caused “by an interaction of incest, inherited disease and stress.”
Many Knut fan communities agreed, noting that the male bear seemed particularly downtrodden when he was confined to a compound with three older females, including his mother, Tosca, who had rejected him at birth.
His female companions constantly bit him to show that he occupied the lowest rung in the social hierarchy. When they pushed him away from the feeding trough, keepers decided he should be fed separately. To regular visitors it seemed as though Knut had become apathetic, even depressed.
As for his lineage, the bear’s father Lars was the product of incest. Knut’s great-aunt died in 1975, also at the young age of four, after losing balance, apparently because of a neurological problem, and falling into the water.
Every day since Knut’s death, hundreds of fans trekked to the zoo to lay flowers and candles in his memory. A book of condolence has also been set up close to the compound.
Bernhard Blaszkiewitz, director of the Berlin zoo, has promised to set up a statue of Knut as a cub in the zoo. But it seems that the main site of pilgrimage for faithful admirers will soon be the natural history museum.
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