Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Honor of Knut

Everyone that knows me knows what a huge dog lover I am. But, I'm really an animal lover in general...and is there anything cuter than a bear cub? Whether it's a grizzly or a polar bear, there's a reason that people started cuddling up with stuffed versions of the real thing many years ago (soon after the famous Teddy Roosevelt Story).

Then there was the more recently famous Knut. An adorable polar bear cub, the world warmed up to him and couldn't get enough of of the little bear. I remember all the videos and pictures of Knut. I watched the videos a few times - he was laying on his back while his owner brushed him or scratched his belly. He was so animated and charming. He may have grown into a giant polar bear, but he still had that lovable face, and the world was captivated by him.

On hearing of his death last Saturday, people mourned the bear in Berlin and beyond. We watched him grow up, heard of his owner's death, and followed the many stories about him. It is sad he had such a short number of years here on earth. According to the Associated Press:

(AP) — Hundreds of fans of Knut the polar bear flocked to his zoo enclosure Sunday to mourn the sudden death of the celebrity who burst into the limelight as a cuddly, fluffy cub hand-fed by his keeper.

The beloved four-year-old died Saturday afternoon in front of hundreds of visitors, taking keepers, animal experts and fans by surprise. The life expectancy of polar bear in the wild is between 15 and 20 years, but animals in captivity normally live even longer because they are not exposed to hunger, thirst or infections.

Knut was rejected by his mother at birth, along with his twin brother, who only survived a couple of days. He attracted attention when his main caregiver, Thomas Doerflein, camped out at the zoo to give the button-eyed cub his bottle every two hours, and went on to appear on magazine covers, in a film and on mountains of merchandise.

Even after packing on hundreds of pounds (kilograms) and trading in his soft fuzz for yellowish fur, fans remained loyal. News of Knut's death on Saturday afternoon around 3 p.m. spread instantly and internationally via Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging.

"We received condolences from all over the world: Australia, New Zealand, Honolulu," bear keeper Heiner Kloes told German news agency DAPD.

There are so many sad things happening in the world. As we deal with wars, the catastrophes in Japan, and all of the local, national, and international news that often saddens our hearts, this story really touched me. It really shows the deep connection that people have with animals and the joy that they can bring into our lives. I will miss Knut and all the stories we might have heard as he grew older. Although I never met him in person, I know he was a really special bear.

It's always understandable when a person mourns a pet. The unconditional love and attachment that's lost is so deep. But, when the world loses a famous bear, the loss is felt as well. We will miss you,
Knut. Because whether it's a soft cuddly pet that has been a companion for years or a giant bear thousands of miles away...they are always missed, and the connection is a strong one.

Knut as a Cub
Photograph by Markus Schrieber

1 comment:

Strong said...

Rest well, little mato ska. We'll miss you.