Monday, December 17, 2007

Meet Knut

Knut is a captive-born polar bear who was born at the Zoologischer Garten Berlin one year ago on December 5th. Rejected by his mother at birth, he was subsequently raised by zoo keepers. He was the first polar bear cub to survive past infancy at the Berlin Zoo in over thirty years. At one time the subject of international controversy, he became a popular tourist attraction and commercial success. After the German tabloid magazine Bild ran a quote from an animal rights activist that seemingly called for the death of the young cub, a worldwide public outrage was caused as fans rallied in support of his being hand-raised by humans.

Knut became the center of a mass media phenomenon dubbed "Knutmania" that spanned the globe and quickly spawned numerous toys, media specials, DVDs, and books. Because of this, the polar bear was largely responsible for a significant increase in revenue at the Berlin Zoo in 2007. Zoo attendance figures for the year increased by an estimated 30 percent, making the zoo the most profitable it has been in its 163 year history.