Knut drowned, expert says

1st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Berlin Zoo's superstar polar bear Knut died from drowning after swelling in the brain caused him to collapse and fall into the pool in his enclosure, preliminary autopsy results showed Friday.

"Knut drowned following massive brain inflammation most likely caused by an infection," said Heribert Hofer, director of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research that conducted the examination.

Knut died on March 19 aged just four years and three months after collapsing in his enclosure in front of a large number of visitors at the zoo in the German capital and plunging into the pool.

He shot to fame as an photogenic cub after being abandoned by his mother. His first public appearance in 2007 drew around 100 television camera crews and the zoo sold huge amounts of Knut-related merchandise.

His body is due to be handed over Berlin's Natural History Museum where it will likely be part of an exhibit about climate change, museum director Ferdinand Damaschun said meanwhile.

"The animal is not going to be stuffed, however. Instead he will continue to exist in so-called dermoplastic" covered with his original coat, Damaschun said.

He left open however when Knut would go on show again.

"We will take our time," Damaschun said.

© 2011 AFP

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