Celebrity polar bear Knut of Zoo Berlin has lost his foster father, zookeeper Thomas Dörflein.
The 44-year old zookeeper, who became known worldwide as Knut's surrogate father after the baby cub's own mother, Tosca, rejected him, was found dead in his Berlin apartment.
It's hard to imagine what confusion and grief Knut will feel about the disappearance of his human "dad." Knut was so bonded to Dörflein — as you can see in "Knut goes exploring" ("auf Entdeckungstour") from ballynow.
When Knut's mother rejected him after his December 2006 birth, Dörflein stayed with der kleine Eisbär, baby Knut, around the clock for 150 straight days. Daddy Dörflein handfed him milk and porridge throughout the nights and days, and played with and cared for him.
Mourners visiting Zoo Berlin have left a white rose and a letter of condolence on the fence of Knut's enclosure.
Knut looks pensive now. He has certainly gone through a lot in his short life.
As a tiny cub, Knut's life was almost cut short by humans who protested the idea of the zoo handraising him. There were some who said that Knut should have been euthanized rather than being raised "as a domestic pet." Some protestors accused Zoo Berlin of violating animal protection legislation by keeping Knut alive.
I don't think there was any perfect solution. My response is to bark the slogan on the German stamp that bears beautiful Knut's image:
Natur weltweit bewahren. Preserve nature worldwide!
21 hours ago