Thanks to my friend M. for reminding me that today is the fourth birthday of Berlin Zoo's famous polar bear, Knut. There's a report on his birthday special on German television on RBB here. I've always been a fan of Knut and was especially rooting for him when he stopped being cute, gained weight from eating too many croissants, and became unpopular. He went from superstar to underdog in a matter of months. Reports circulated that Knut had become 'a psychopath who will never mate' because he was addicted to human company.
These negative reports reflected criticism on the Zoo's decision to save Knut by hand-rearing him after his mother rejected him. Whatever the problems with the bear, this is an example of the kinds of techniques that are necessary to preserve vulnerable species. Thus, I think it's also a good day to pay tribute to Knut's former keeper, Thomas Dörflein, who saved the bear's life by raising him. Dörflein died prematurely in 2008 at the age of 44.
Flowers left in memory of Dörflein at the gates of Berlin Zoo upon his death. Image: Wiki.
Addendum (21 March 2011): For my post on Knut's untimely death, go here.