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Knut and Friends: The story of a polar bear in the Berlin Zoo

When I think about the Berlin Zoo, one thing comes to my mind, and it’s the polar bear called Knut. Born in December 2006, Knut was a polar bear born in the Berlin Zoo that became so popular that his presence increased zoo attendance by 30%. Yeah, everybody loved Knut, but he is no longer with us. His sad story is one of the reasons why I believe the documentary Knut and Friends is something that every animal lover should watch.

Knut and Friends tell the story of Knut, the famous polar bear from the Berlin Zoo, and shows his early life in contrast with other polar bears that were born in the Arctic and brown bears from the forests of Belarus.

Knut wasn’t born alone; he came to the world with a brother that died a couple of days later. But he was left alone after his mother Tosca abandoned he. She was a former circus bear, and people believed that she felt like there was something wrong with him. She was right, somehow.

Thomas Dörflein + William Timken + Knut (polar bear) Berlin Zoo Germany

In Knut and Friends, you will see his relationship with his caretaker, Thomas Dörflein. Thomas lived in Knut’s cage to provide the bear with everything it might need. Including food every two hours made from a mixture of cod liver oil, cat food, baby formula, and many special vitamins that bears need.

All this care worked out well, and Knut became a media celebrity when he was first presented to the public in March 2007. He was so famous and popular that the Berlin Zoo reported an increase in attendance of 30% just because of the baby polar bear.

But, this is not a happy story. Knut died in March 2011 when he was just four years old. And he died strangely. He suffered a seizure and drowned after falling into the water of his enclosure—all of this in front of hundreds of zoo visitors that we complete in shock.

A few years later, in 2014, the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Berlin published an extensive investigation into Knut’s death. This document reports that the cause of death was an acute brain inflammation resulting from unknown virus infection. It is how Knut died. And, to make things even worst, his caretaker didn’t live long as well. Thomas Dörflein died in 2008 after being sick for some time.

Knut and Friends is a beautiful documentary that sheds some light on one of the most popular animals in Berlin. If you like polar bears and cute animals, this is the video for you.

You can watch Knut and Friends on Amazon if you want.

Knut’s main picture here comes from By Jensk369 (Jens Koßmagk) (selbst fotografiert von Jens Koßmagk) [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Felipe Tofani

Felipe Tofani is a passionate designer with a penchant for crafting unique experiences and a mixed taste in music. As the curator behind this blog's explorations, he takes pride in discovering fascinating destinations. Whether unearthing hidden gems or sharing captivating historical narratives, Felipe is the creative force driving the stories you find here. Join him on a journey of design, discovery, and the delightful rhythm of unconventional tunes.View Author posts