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Knut, Dead at Age 4

Written by PETA | March 21, 2011

Knut, the polar bear cub who was the toast of the Berlin Zoo four short years ago, is dead. He was only 4 years old.  

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Months ago, PETA Germany had warned the head of the zoo that Knut was being terrorized by his three female companions, one being his mother, Tosca, (who had once been used in a circus.) He was under constant stress. PETA Germany repeatedly asked zoo authorities to move Knut away from the three females to a different location. Like most captive polar bears, Knut paced incessantly and bobbed his head repeatedly, signs of captivity-induced mental illness common in bears. One German zoologist termed Knut a “psychopath” but zoo officials insisted Knut was “fine.”

Previously, the zoo had tried to unload the less-cute (and less lucrative) adult Knut to another zoo. “It’s time for him to go–the sooner he gets a new home the better. Anything else would be financially irresponsible,” said the zoo’s senior bear keeper. The plans were scrapped in the face of public opposition. Polar bears naturally roam vast Arctic expanses and open water—which no zoo can provide. An Oxford University study found that polar bears suffer physical and mental anguish in captivity and noted that a polar bear’s typical enclosure size is about one-millionth of his or her minimum home-range size.

People who care about bears should refuse to buy a ticket to any zoo that profits from their misery.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • Jeannette Turner says:

    This is just so sad, i totally agree that the use of animals for food,clothing and human entertainment is just disguisting. Knut and all the animals who died are now in a much better place. Rest in peace sweet Knut. xx

  • Paula Preedy says:

    What a tragic little life Knut had. How pathetic that the public loved only the cute cub and completely disregarded him when he became an adult. Even his own zoo wanted rid of him. Life is a “greed machine” where animals are concerned. When will mankind ever learn – animals aren’t here for our amusement and bank balance. They have every right to lead a happy, safe, respected and fulfilled life, just as we do. Farewell Knut, hope you’re in a better place now. X

  • lizzy says:

    I am crying my eyes out right now! I just found out about this and am so upset that this precious angel lost his life due to people’s greed and stupidity. I am not shocked, however. Animals cannot be made prisoners of or else they die far sooner than they’re meant to. Also, they’re lives are made so miserable while in captivity. Shame on these zoos who put their own financial needs before the welfare of these innocent creatures!!!!!

  • Ann-Marie says:

    What a horrible, horrible story. This poor tragic captive being being laughed at as he was in his death throes (until the crowds realised that he wasn’t just fitting (having siezures) to amuse the gawking humans). There is no place in this world for zoos. Our conservation efforts should lie in preserving the natural environments. Shame on this zoo!

  • melanie says:

    although a lot of zoos do a lot of good for conservation and rehabilitation and education they can also do a lot of harm to the animals when the balance is not right…this is a truely tragic story, and makes me very sad

  • Irene karaitou says:

    you’re safe now little angel.You’re definatelly in a better place now.Noone will ever stare at you,scream in your face,point his finger at you,scare you to death by trying to get too close to you or make you do things you don’t want and make you feel uncomfortable.Now you can run,you can play and you can be trully happy.I love you little one and I’ve never been ungier and sadder in my life.I wish for a day with no zoos,with animals there where they belong given the respect and care they absolutelly deserve.But I don’t think this day will ever come ’cause this monster called humman being,will destroy everything….Maddness…Wake up before it’s too late..

  • Steven Anderson says:

    To those commenting and believing that zoos are for human entertainment, that isn’t so. Zoos are great educational tools and help in the preservation of endangered species. Yes it would be nice if all animals could roam in the wild, in their natural environment… but with poachers etc. many will go extinct if we leave them alone in the wild. “Well end poaching then” you say so the animals can be left alone. People are trying to accomplish that, but it’s easier said than done. In the meantime protecting some on animal reserves and in zoos is a precaution we need to take. Or would you rather an entire species go extinct just so a few of these animals can remain in the wild rather than in the zoos? No, we should not shut down all zoos. Not everyone can buy a ticket to go see animals in the wild and so a trip to the zoo can help raise awareness for those that are endangered and help gain support from the public to help their plight in the wild. Otherwise it is “out of sight, out of mind” and people don’t care about the wrongs going on in the wild. Seeing a animal in person causes a desire to help rise within many. Also many zoos donate to animal preservation causes.

  • Matty says:

    So sad, so upsetting, so frustrading, so wrong, so negligent. My heart is broken. Dear God, help us be better humans.

  • Diana Barrowcliff says:

    My heart is breaking for Knut that poor little baby never had a chance. These animals and all animals should only be in their natural habitat. I refuse to buy a ticket to a zoo or even visit one because of their barbic ways and inhumane treatment of the animals. God Bless you Knut and may you rest in peace. I am so sorry your life was and time on planet earth was not a good one. You are with your real momma now and she loves you.

  • Hayley says:

    Zoos are prisons for animals. I’m about to give birth to my first child in a few days … a baby girl. My husband and I will NEVER take her to a zoo, circus, aquarium, or any place where the animals are exploited like this.

  • phylicia fulmer says:

    I knew the moment I laid eyes on this article it was going to end in disaster.How do u keep a Polar Bear in captivty…its not meant to be.We need to stay to keep educating these ppl who dont know any better!!! Such a sad story…as they all are !!!

  • DeSaix says:

    How very sad, yet another victim of how many each day,- we should hang our heads in SHAME

  • Corey says:

    Knut was a victim of greed and oppression. Knut was deprived of it’s natural environment up in the Arctic and forced to spend it’s entire life in a prison called a zoo. For polar bears, summer means a living hell due to the heat. The heat for polar bears is like the cold for me. How would we as humans like it if one day we were captured by aliens and put into zoos like the animals the human race imprisoned and tortured. Polar bears belong where it’s freezing cold nearly all year round and where there’s ice constantly. Zoos are evil money making imprisoners of animals! Free all the animals and rehabilitate the baby animals.

  • Angie says:

    Byee-Knut, Rest In Peace/ You’re safe and happy now 🙂

  • moon says:

    Very sad indeed. I remember when they first got him, and his trainer was so close to him. The wild is not safe for them any longer with the melting of ice, but they should not be put in captivity, at the expense of a natural good life in trhe wild. Man must learn how to save this planet, or he to will end up like Knut.

  • irene says:

    one more time i feel ashamed been human… what a tragedy…

  • Loo12 says:

    Its not fair that people don’t care! “Knut’s fine.”NO, HE’S NOT!Think, stupid people! *sigh* shame on us….i strongly feel that we need to spread this and all horrifying news throughout the web.There should be new laws that arrest people if they slaughter or hurt any animal in any way!

  • Chris says:

    God gave Adam and Eve the right to rule over animals and give them individual names. I see nothing wrong with zoos that mimic the species habitat size, temperature, and other factors. There are organizations like the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that maintain high standard living conditions for animals. But also with our right to rule we have certain responsibilities to all animal species to make sure they are well taken care of. Such a shame most animal right groups nowadays are extremists. The only ones i agree with is animals are not ours to wear, experiment on, and abuse in any way

  • kathy says:

    Yes Nese, this little fellow is now free to roam and live in joy. I feel he wanted out of this physical world, sometimes you just have to move on to the next level to be at peace. Love to you beautiful Knut. Some humans actually believe they can control others destiny, animal or human, well this little guy showed them, he moved on!

  • Margaret Lovick says:

    This use of animals for our entertainment totally takes them out of their natural wnvironment – It induces stress on them and this is the result…poor polar bear – poor goreous creature that God gave us to love and admire..this world needs to turn its head around and honor and respect these creatures – so powerful and happy they are…and then mankind – without being kind – takes them out of their home life and puts them through hell..IT MUST STOP!! Heaven help us all! Poor bear – my heart hurts for this story – not a good commentary on us as human beings when we let things like his death happen! Hang our heads in shame!

  • Linda says:

    Can’t believe people still visit zoos. Awful and sad.

  • cat says:

    Whoever thought of putting animals in cages and thinking they are happy is mentally insane! Animals deserve to be free.

  • Billie Kaine says:

    My heart breaks for this unfortunate beautiful polar bear. How do these pathetic people get to be in charge when they know nothing. Just cruel unfeeling humans. He deserved a long life and got bt a sad portion. A better place he is in. Shame on all you in charge find a job you are better qualified for like collecting garbage.

  • Mary Demarchi says:

    It is all so wrong. Animals should all be able to live in their natural habitat WITHOUT the interference of humans. Humans MUST stop destroying the animals & their natural habitat as humans are greedy & seems that the natural instinct is to destroy anything that is beautiful, whether for greed or just because they can. I refuse to visit zoos as I hate seeing any creature in a cage under the command of humans. These animals that are rescued & cared for in cages & enclosures by kind humans are there due to the greedy humans. Lets put the greedy humans in cages, the world would be a much better place to live in.

  • Ramona says:

    This is just terrible!!!! All zoos should be shut down. This just goes to show that animals can’t survive out of their habitat.

  • lesley says:

    wowo??/… this is soo saddening!!!… when globalwarming is on a rise & the polar bear population is creeping to extinction!!.. i strongly believe someone should be held liabe for this… an innocent life lost. Because of what?… NEGLIGENCE!!!…. this truly griefs my soul… *sigh*

  • Kim says:

    There is no mention in the article what the actual cause of death was?

  • petra & roger op 't roodt says:

    It makes us very sad that this happened,that Knud had to lead such a hard life while people payed tickets to go to visit Knud, without helping him! How can we act like that and how can we not care? It makes us so mad! animals don’t belong in the zoo,nowhere, we all want to live in our own homes as well instead of in prisons don’t we? why don’t we want the same for all the animals? we do respect PETA vey much for all their good important work, wish we all would be PETA xxx

  • Amy DeVito says:


  • Nese says:

    You’re free at last, maybe you can go now, in vast Arctic expanses. Shame on us, we the human-beings!

  • Robert says:

    Well it just goes to show that it is unhealthy to keep an animal captive just for the amusement of the general public.

  • mark says:

    How, sad. I remember when this baby was the world news; and now, this pathetic excuse for a zoo had no use or time for him after the intrigue wore off…obviously this zoo truly has no responsible oversight or care for the precious animals it keeps imprisoned…RIP Knut

  • Deborah A Smith says:

    Close the zoo down!!! Ignorant!! Seriously, they should be fined big time!

  • Savannah says:

    What exactly did he die from? Was it stress or was it a medical problem? In my personal opinion, I think its OK to keep polar bears captive IF their enclosure is big enough and if they get good enrichment toys to keep them from getting bored. Captive polar bears don’t have to worry about hunting, sickness or anything really, so I think they have a pretty good life.

  • Silvia Tamanti says:

    Hi On YouTube there is an amateur video recording the last minute of life of Knut. It seems he was sick or something. I cannot say anything on zoo operators’ intervention the video is too short and therefore nobody can be accused. I think it could maybe be avoided. Have a look at this :_o((

  • Suzette says:

    I wish zoos did not exist!

  • Danell says:

    I’m heartbroken by this news “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.” – Proverbs

  • Lisa Ramey says:

    It’s so sympathy for Knut to suffer like this. If Peta warned them before then it’s their fault. Knut doesn’t deserve like this. No animals deserve to suffer by bully or living in a bad place to live. Please do something about it.

  • Apes says:

    Awwww 🙁 Poor guy. The picture is so cute, it almost looks like hes smiling. Thats so sad!!

  • Todd Harris says:

    Is this photo while he is napping?

  • Tina Ladd says:

    This loss of Knut certainly proves that Polar Bears Certainly DO NOT belong in any zoo, any where and should be left in the wild.

  • Karina says:

    So sad. Zoos must disappear. No animals could live happily in captivity. Respect life. Respect freedom

  • Kathsen says:

    PETA- thank you for always letting me know what REALLY goes on in these situations- I don’t want to be ignorant of the facts!

  • Ann Cort says:

    So very sad what is done to captive animals. God bless Knut, he is at peace.

  • animalactivist says:

    f*n idiots!!!! human beings are so good at ruining things!!!!! nothing more rewarding in this world then playing God!!!!!!! so unfortunate that we can’t tweak nature completely to our liking!!!! sorry Knut, you were beautiful and wonderful I know God is taking good care of you sweet baby.

  • Kate Loree says:

    I have posted this on FB for my 329 friends to see. Heaven is just on Earth and we are tormenting our angels.

  • patricia says:

    this is so sad thank you peta for all your efforts rip beautiful boy no you have all they land you need to wonder

  • Elba says:


  • Buttercup6807 says:

    horrible! Hopefully action will be taken

  • carol owler says: