- Title: GERMANY/FILE: Expert reveals the cause of the death of star polar bear, Knut
- Date: 4th April 2011
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (APRIL 1, 2011) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR VILLA IN THE 'TIERPARK' (ZOO) ACHIM GRUBER, ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR ANIMAL PATHOLOGY AT THE FREE UNIVERSITY OF BERLIN, TALKING TO JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE) (German) ACHIM GRUBER, ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR ANIMAL PATHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BERLIN, SAYING: "Knut basically drowned. The drowning was caused by an uncontrolled spasm triggered by severe brain damage which was the results of an infection that he had been suffering from for quite some time. And we expect that that infection of his brain might have been caused by a virus." MEDIA AND PAN TO NEWS CONFERENCE OF ZOO SKELETON REPLICA OF KNUT'S SKULL DIRECTOR OF ZOO, BERNHARD BLASZKIEWITZ PHOTOGRAPHERS (SOUNDBITE) (German) CLAUDIA SZENTIKS, PATHOLOGIST AT THE LEIBNIZ INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH OF ZOO AND WILD ANIMALS, SAYING: "We found no clue in his organs - especially the kidneys - that he died of stress related illnesses. Meaning, the polar bear did not suffer from stress. He did not die from a trauma either, there were no traumatic changes detectable." WIDE NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 19th April 2011 13:00
- Location: Germany
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Environment / Natural World,Health
- Reuters ID: LVA47SHJ0S5BQ4QN40NW576OCQ1D
- Story Text: Knut, the celebrity orphan polar bear who drew thousands of visitors to Berlin zoo, died from drowning after a muscle spasm, experts said on Friday (April 1).
A CAT scan had revealed abnormalities in the brain of the bear, who may have inherited epilepsy from his father Lars, also a sufferer.
The acting director of the Institute for animal pathology, Achim Gruber, said that the drowning of Knut was caused by severe brain damage that was likely brought on by an infection.
"Knut basically drowned," Gruber said. "The drowning was caused by an uncontrolled spasm triggered by severe brain damage which was the results of an infection that he had been suffering from for quite some time. And we expect that that infection of his brain might have been caused by a virus."
Neurologists said the fit was triggered by a brain disorder yet to be identified. Focus magazine said Knut's brain is now being studied at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wild Animal Research (IZW).
Pathologist Claudia Szentiks said it was unclear specifically what caused the brain swelling, but that experts had ruled out rabies, botulism and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.
Szentiks also rejected allegations from animal-rights groups that he was traumatized by living in a zoo environment, saying that there were no indications of any chronic stress.
"We found no clue in his organs - especially the kidneys - that he died of stress related illnesses. Meaning, the polar bear did not suffer from stress. He did not die from a trauma either, there were no traumatic changes detectable," she said.
She added that even if Knut had not drowned after his collapse, he would not have survived the damage from the encephalitis.
Four year-old Knut, who won global fame as he grew from a cute cub into a 200 kilogram predator, died on March 19 in front of horrified visitors at the zoo last weekend.
Knut, who was born in December 2006 at the zoo, rose to celebrity status as an irresistibly cute, fluffy cub. He was rejected by his mother at birth and was hand-reared instead by his keeper Thomas Doerflein.
Visitors came to watch keeper and cub playing together. The German post office produced a stamp in Knut's honour and the bear appeared on the cover of numerous publications, including the German edition of Vanity Fair.
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