Sad: Economic Crisis claims Knut the Polar Bear

Remember Knut the Polar Bear? In March 2007 the world focused on Germany after environment activists called on Knut to be put down after he was rejected by his mother. Knut survived, and went on to become the worlds most popular polar bear, and a huge hit for the Berlin Zoo.

Fast forward to the end of 2008 and the economic turmoil across the world means that Knut, now not so cute and cuddly no longer has a home. It’s time for Knut to find a mate, but the Berlin Zoo can’t afford an estimated $13 million to acquire an appropriate female and construct a new compound for them to share.

“It’s time for him to go – the sooner he gets a new home the better,” said senior bear keeper Heiner Kloes, quoted in The Times.

“Anything else would be financially irresponsible.”

Berliners though aren’t very happy, and are mounting a campaign to keep Knut, collecting petition signatures and arguing that he’s a crucial tourist draw and a symbol as important as the Brandenburg Gate.

“He means a lot to many people. When you’re with him you forget your problems for a little while,” Hartmut Wiedenroth, co-founder of the Knut Forever in Berlin campaign, told Spiegel Online via Canada.com.