Knut the Polar Bear May Live on at Berlin Museum
Knut the polar bear, one of the star tourist attractions in Berlin, Germany, may continue to draw visitors for decades to come if plans to stuff and display the animal at the city's Natural History Museum go forward.
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The popular 4-year-old bear, who collapsed and died at the Berlin Zoo March 19 in front of hundreds of horrified fans, roughly doubled visitor numbers to the zoo since his birth in 2006, and his star power showed no signs of dimming until his unexpected death.
Knut's mass appeal was based partly on his cuddly good looks and partly on the dramatic rocky start he experienced when his mother abandoned him and zookeepers raised him by hand.
"We haven't yet made a decision on whether we will stuff him and exhibit him. We have to talk to the zoo," said Gesine Steiner, a spokeswoman for the Natural History Museum.
"We do of course have lots of stuffed zoo animals on show here," she added.
Tourists who came to see the bear in person at the zoo often left with souvenir stuffed toy bears, but whether they will flock to see a real stuffed Knut is as yet unclear. Messages on a Berlin Zoo condolence page included several posts from fans dismayed by the idea.
"Please give Knut some dignity in death, and refrain from displaying his body in a museum," said one. "Why not construct a memorial in a beautiful flower-filled park to remember our beloved bear-baby forever."