Knut the internationally beloved polar bear has already survived more than his fair share of tragedies in his two years of life. Yet Knut’s travails may soon be taking another turn. Born in captivity at the Berlin Zoo, Knut was orphaned by his mother and then raised by a human caretaker, Thomas Doerflein. Doerflein then suffered a heart attack at age 44, leaving behind not only Knut but three of his own children. Doerflein achieved iconic status upon his “adoption” of Knut, and his death was mourned as a national tragedy of sorts.
Under Doerflein’s care, Knut, unlike most polar bears, became extremely responsive to human attention. Prior to his death, Doerflein was banned from Knut’s enclosure, however for fear that Knut might revert to his natural instincts and become aggressive.
Now a healthy 440 pounds, Knut has outgrown his zoo enclosure. In order for him to remain at the zoo, a new enclosure would have to be built, which appears highly unlikely owing to space constraints. Knut would need space to accommodate himself and a fertile mate. Knut will reach sexual maturity around age 6, four years from now, but it’s already time to begin matchmaking.
To the distress of Knut-loving Berliners, the Berlin Zoo does not house any age-appropriate furry damsels with whom Knut can, um, become acquainted. But Berlin’s loss is another city’s gain. And there are no shortage of takers. Stay tuned for the next chapter in Knut’s saga. …