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Knut bears brunt of financial crisis

By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Wednesday, 3 December 2008

More than 21,000 Berliners have signed a petition demanding that Knut
be allowed to remain

EPA

More than 21,000 Berliners have signed a petition demanding that Knut be allowed to remain

The world's most famous polar bear is to be banished from Berlin zoo because of lack of cash – the first ursine victim of the credit crunch.

Knut the polar bear, who now weighs 210kg, turns two on Friday. But Berlin zoo will not be holding a party for its famous inmate, who has lived there since birth, announcing plans for his imminent eviction instead.

"He should go sooner rather than later," Heiner Kl�s, the chief bear keeper, said. "Knut must finally find a new home." He is set to leave by early 2010.

More than 21,000 Berliners have signed a petition demanding that Knut be allowed to remain. The bear's fans plan to rent a site opposite the zoo on Friday for a Knut birthday party. The city's tourist industry did not welcome the news of the bear's departure.

"Berlin is about to lose one of its best ambassadors," said Christian Tänzler, of the tourist board. "For our visitors from abroad it will mean the loss of one of the city's true mascots."

Conservative estimates put the revenue that Knut has earned at €10m (£8.5m). Millions of cuddly Knut toys and T-shirts bearing his image have been sold, a Hollywood film has been made about him and he has even featured on the cover of the magazine Vanity Fair.

Berlin zoo cited financial concerns as the chief reason for the decision. To keep Knut, the zoo would have to raise €9m to pay for roomier quarters for him and a future mate. The city is still bankrupt and the credit crunch has destroyed hopes of an early recovery.

"We cannot afford it in such times of economic strain," a Berlin zoo spokesman said. It emerged that Knut's legal owner is Neum�nster zoo in northern Germany; its polar bear Lars fathered Knut in 2006. Peter Dr�, the Neum�nster director, said his zoo alone would decide on Knut's future.

Zoologists are also concerned for Knut's psychological welfare. He was hand-raised for 18 months and zoologists have argued that because Knut only had contact with humans, he has developed psychopathic tendencies; even if he found a mate, Knut would not have developed enough to be able to properly respond to her advances.

Bear experts have insisted that Knut should be found a new home with other polar bears as soon as possible. The most likely option is a zoo in Gelsenkirchen, which has a three-year-old female polar bear called Lara.

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To target an innocent Polar Bear that has earned its keep is pathetic!!

Fair enough that employers rentrench women first and find out later how valuable their contribution was to the organisation.
Berlin Zoo was placed on the World Map thanks to KNUT.

Long Live Knut - you are a Chum!

Posted by HH | 04.12.08, 01:44 GMT

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Trinbagonians are rooting for Knut to stay at Berlin Zoo. If he is evicted to less comfortable quarters elsewhere, we shall not be visiting Germany. We love you Knut!

Posted by Carol Ann | 03.12.08, 13:23 GMT

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Knut's fans here in the Caribbean are appalled at the way Knut is being treated by Berlin Zoo and the media that are describing him as "psychotic and dirty looking". Knut has single-pawedly shown Berlin to the world in a new, positive light. He has done more to promote Berlin and Germany than any magazine, tv show, tourist department or politician. The world is watching this situation very closely.

Posted by Sajinne | 03.12.08, 13:19 GMT

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So is Knut going to be unceremoniously evicted from the zoo, chucked out onto the pavement with a small package of raw fish to join the unhappy ranks of the Berlin homeless?

If not, then I hardly think that it’s fitting to talk of the poor chap “bearing the brunt” of the financial crisis. I reckon that he’ll be shacked up with the lovely Lara before you can say climate change.

Posted by Davey Monroe | 03.12.08, 12:53 GMT

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Perhaps if they hadn't stolen his father out of the natural wild to be put on show then he would have lived a natural life in his natural habitat..

Now he can't be rehabilitated it has limited the available options to him - either continue a life in captivity or die at the hands of some other human..

Posted by Matt | 03.12.08, 11:37 GMT

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The bear has got to be moved for his own good to a venue where he will have the chance to share bear company-not possible in Berlin.The problem is not new.

Posted by jonwoosnam | 03.12.08, 10:12 GMT

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answer: quite a lot- but keep on going along this line and you are left with planet earth filled wall to wall with people all bored out of their minds and having to eat one another just to stay alive to be bored for yet another day?

Posted by jaff | 03.12.08, 09:15 GMT

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Question:
How many starving people do you feed with 9 Million Euro?

Posted by Marco | 03.12.08, 09:05 GMT

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