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Knut the Polar Bear to be exhibited at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

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Eisbär Knut
Press release,

From February 16th to March 15th, Knut the polar bear, who died in the Berlin Zoo on 19/03/2011, will be on public display in the foyer of the Museum für Naturkunde, free of charge, following the wishes of a large part of the population. Afterwards, Knut will be added to the scientific research collections of the Museum and be displayed in another exhibition not before 2014. The exhibition entitled “The Value of Nature” will include Knut under the aspects of his extraordinary popularity and his role as ambassador for an endangered species.

“We know this animal has great symbolic power. It stands for the protection of an endangered species and for the fight against global climate change and also for the relationship between man and animal.” explained Director General Johannes Vogel. We are aware that public opinion is divided on the decision to have the polar bear mounted, and we do respect other points of view, but we simply cannot please everybody.”

While the cause of Knut's death was investigated at the IZW Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, the Museum's exhibition team has been developing a concept on the presentation of the animal, taking as many aspects as possible into account. On the one hand, there are scientists who would like to make such rare celebrities part of their scientific collection. On the other hand, there is Knut the polar bear, eliciting a wide range of emotions that must be accommodated. These include a sense of mourning for the animal with a dread of seeing the animal on display, as well as a sense of curiosity and anticipation at the opportunity to see Knut again. In the Museum's 200-year history, a tradition of mounting interesting animals that died in zoos has developed to make them available to future generations for research and education. This seems to chime in with the needs of many people, as the lasting popularity of Bobby the Gorilla shows, which has been on public display since 1935.

A taxidermy of Knut has been created by mounting the original hide over an artistic sculpture of the animal. The eyes are made of glass. The process of mounting an animal has been well illustrated as part of our general exhibition for many years.