Knut, the polar bear cub who was born in captivity at the Berlin Zoological Garden, is dead. He was only 4 years old. Knut collapsed and died in front of approximately 600 to 700 visitors. Witnesses reported that after the bear’s rear left leg began shaking, he became agitated before convulsing several times and falling backwards into the pool. Unfortunately, knut drowned before zookeepers could rescue him from the water.
Knut had risen to stardom when he was rejected by his mother at birth and hand raised by zookeepers. Although Knut was the first Polar bear to be born and survive past infancy at the Berlin Zoo in more than 30 years, his tragic young life was shattered by tragedy from the start. Both Knut and his twin brother were rejected by their mother at birth and Knut’s brother died four days later due to an infection. After spending the first 44 days of his life in an incubator, he was put in the care of zookeeper Thomas Dörflein who began raising the infant with round-the-clock care. As a result, Dörflein turned out to be a minor celebrity in Germany and was awarded Berlin's Medal of Merit in honor of his incessant care for the cub. Tragedy struck again before Knut´s second birthday, when Dörflein died of a heart attack on 22 September 2008 at the age of 44. According to observers, Knut seemed to suffer from depression in the weeks after his dearly-loved keeper and constant companion passed away. Experts had earlier described Knut as turning into a "psychopath" because he was becoming addicted to human beings. In 2009 Knut was the subject of a bitter custody battle between two zoos (Neumuenster Zoo and Berlin Zoo). And last year Knut's cousin died subsequent to a mystery virus that spread throughout the zoos bear enclosure.