You may remember first hearing about Knut, the adorable little polar bear from Germany, about two years ago. Born in captivity at the Berlin Zoo, he was orphaned by his mother and raised by Thomas Doerflein who was incredibly devoted to the cub, maybe too much so.
This week Doerflein was found dead at the young age of 44 having suffered a heart attack. He leaves behind three (human) children and Knut. People all over Germany are heartbroken by the loss—Doerflein had become an icon during Knut’s growing years and shared in the polar bear’s fame. How much Knut is mourning the loss is a troubling thought.
Polar bears are independent and solitary creatures, but Knut has learned to love and crave human attention. Before his death, Doerflein had been banned from Knut’s enclosure for fear of what the bear might do to him. Knut would whine and fuss until he could at least see zookeepers present outside his enclosure. This behavior has caused the once cute and cuddly cub to be labeled a psychopath and calls are being made to have him removed from the public eye for rehabilitation. —Jill Brodsky