Lifesize Model of Knut the Polar Bear to Go on Display in Berlin

The model is made with his fur, but the museum says Knut was not stuffed.

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Marcus Brandt / Getty Images

Knut in Berlin Zoo on March 28, 2007.

Knut the polar bear is back. Though not necessarily in a form that will please his fans. A model of the beloved bear — whose antics melted hearts world-wide before his untimely death in 2011 — will go on display at the Natural History Museum in Berlin this weekend.

The museum has faced resistance to the idea of putting Knut’s body on display. “When someone dies in your family, I think you don’t want him stuffed in a museum,” said the leader of the movement to prevent the taxidermy of Knut, Joche Kolbe, during a protest in 2011.

But the Natural History museum says this is no conventional taxidermy. “It’s important to point out that we have not stuffed Knut,” said museum spokeswoman Gesine Steiner, according to the Guardian. “Rather, this is a plastic form, true to the original and covered with Knut’s very own fur.”

(MORE: Germany’s Latest Polar Bear Celebrity)

Visitors will be able to see the model Knut – replete with glass eyes — for free between February 16 and March 15. Then he will disappear into the museum archives until 2014, where he will reappear as part of an exhibition on animal welfare and climate change, reports German newspaper Bild.

Knut rose to fame in 2006 after his mother Tosca abandoned him and Berlin Zoo keeper Thomas Dörflein took over her parental role. Knut soon began drawing record numbers of visitors to the Zoo, who flocked to see him play with his keeper and to buy Knut-themed merchandise. Dörflein and Knut were inseparable until 2007, when the zoo decided the bear had grown too large to play safely with his surrogate dad. The next year, Dörflein tragically died of a heart attack. Knut — who was known for his special affection for croissants — passed away in March 2011 after suffering brain damage and drowning in front of zoo visitors.

WATCH: Internet Enamored by Siku, the Danish Polar Bear

26 comments
MonsterMunch
MonsterMunch

Sonia van Gilder Cooke - your article makes me think of a quote from The Picture of Dorian Gray - where words "give plastic form to formless things". Now Knut to is apparently immortalised as a "plastic form" - which is quite unnerving, but somehow touching I think!

southofcloud9
southofcloud9

I get that they want to honor him, but I find it utterly morbid & disturbing.  Instead of stuffing , put the $$$ towards saving the live ones! Seriously...

DavidEsmay
DavidEsmay

I remember going to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago when I was a kid and saw Bushman the gorilla stuffed and mounted in a glass case. What's the difference?

JimWilson1
JimWilson1

I hate when someone stuffs their Knuts.

DebraMoore
DebraMoore

Gotta love the stinking zoos. They use them in life and even after. Sick folks. Whatever makes money, right?

fwlrcj
fwlrcj

I know he died a natural death, but it is still creepy

KarenSaucedo
KarenSaucedo

This is sad.  Bad enough he had a very short life, in a zoo.  But, skinned in death?  Come on.
The way to remember Knut would be through a lovely photo essay put on permanent display.  Not by
stretching his fur over a plastic mannequin.  Its really too bad that happened.  A sad end to a sad end.

weidermeijer
weidermeijer

Well if they are going to put a stuffed Knut on display, wouldn't they also need to send Thomas Dörflein to the taxidermist too?

What a cute display the two of them playing together. 

saratoole
saratoole

I think it's beautiful to honor him like this -- it's a tribute to what he inspired.   When we are dead -- we are dead, folks.  There is no spirit in the body once we leave -- humans and animals alike -- and we end up in a box in the ground, or in a crematorium. If they want to preserve the memory of Knut like this -- why not?

StephanieMauser
StephanieMauser

well, it is a bit.. gross. but there's a difference for me in ppl who hunt for the sole purpose of getting fur for other ppl to wear, and making use of the fur of an animal that has died of natural causes, or from an accident, or using the fur from a food animal. there's nothing to be served by cremating him with his fur on, or burying him with his fur on. there's nothing  man made that looks like polar bear fur, they want to put a model of a famous polar bear up, why would they NOT use the bears' own fur? if the model is well done, as opposed to being some creepy taxidermy, it's as a good way to memorialize him as any.

DMrules
DMrules

Has Knut's life and death not been tragic enough? What a macabre  ending to a beautiful creature. 

KevinW
KevinW

But the Natural History museum says this is no conventional taxidermy “It’s important to point out that we have not stuffed Knut,” ....“Rather, this is a plastic form, true to the original and covered with Knut’s very own fur.”

----------------

 Ummmmm, that is EXACTLY how taxidermy is done. You skin the animal, cure the hide, and stretch it over a form that mimics the animals muscle structure... or are they suggesting that they shaved it and glued the fur to the form, one hair at a time? Somehow I doubt it

JoshuaE
JoshuaE

When I read the abbreviated headline that linked to the article, I thought they used his fur to make clothes that a runway model was wearing.  The comments on that article would have been priceless.

polonel
polonel

Great human interst story.

traceydj
traceydj

I fail to see the distinction between stuffing him and peeling off his fur. Both are barbaric!

StephanieMauser
StephanieMauser

@KevinW i think they are being so specific because most ppl do actually think that taxidermy means taking the innards out of a critter and filling them with sawdust, and even that isn't right, it used to be they used cloth, the work was done in upholstery shops. the "conventional taxidermy" phrase was what the REPORTER said. it's not the conventional way ANYMORE, but she clearly didn't do her homework.

AdamRussell
AdamRussell

UndertakerWell, there's three things we can do with your mum. We can bury her, burn her, or dump her.

ManDump her?

UndertakerDump her in the Thames.

ManWhat?

UndertakerOh, did you like her?

ManYes!

UndertakerOh well, we won't dump her, then. Well, what do you think? We can bury her or burn her.

ManWell, which do you recommend?

UndertakerWell, they're both nasty. If we burn her, she gets stuffed in the flames, crackle, crackle, crackle, which is a bit of a shock if she's not quite dead, but quick. (the audience starts booing) and then we give you handful of ashes, which you can pretend are hers.

P.J.
P.J.

@traceydj  I failed to see the distinction too, but I don't think it's barbaric. When I saw "model" in the headline, I thought they made an article of clothing that a model would be wearing.  That, to me, would be a little creepier.

trapyzoyd
trapyzoyd

"barbaric"? the animal is dead..

geeon1
geeon1

Barbaric? LOL No. This is just another form of Greed. They saw a way to capitalize on Knuts' fame even as the bear (and his fur) should be decomposing in the earth revitalizing the Earths nutrients.

KevinW
KevinW

@StephanieMauser@KevinWStuffed is stuffed, be it sawdust or a plastic form. Personally, I'm not bothered in the least either way. While I'm not big on taxidermy in the home, I have no problems with it in museums


To all those who are in such opposition, let me ask, how many of you ate meat in the past week? Isn't cutting up an animal to eat much more disrespectful than stuffing one and putting it on display? Oh, and yes, I am a meat eater