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01/13/2012
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Remembering a Beloved Bear

Berlin Zoo Chooses Design for Knut Memorial

DPA

Nuremberg artist Josef Tabachnyk's vision of 'Knut - The Dreamer' was chosen to memorialize the polar bear at the Berlin Zoo.

Last year, hearts were broken in Berlin and around the world when Knut the polar bear died at the Berlin Zoo. Following an outpouring of grief, the zoo and an association supporting it decided to erect a monument to the bear, and issued a call to artists. On Friday, they announced the winner.

Knut, arguably the world's most famous polar bear, will be remembered as a dreamer. During his short life, the ursine star of the Berlin Zoo drew millions of fans and visitors who hoped to catch a glimpse of the playful cub who had been hand-reared by a zookeepeer.

After Knut died suddenly last March, the public outpouring of grief was immense. Now the Berlin Zoo and the association that supports it have chosen a design to memorialize the bear forever. The winner is "Knut, the Dreamer," designed by Nuremberg artist Josef Tabachnyk. The model was chosen from among more than 40 submitted plans, and a bronze version is expected to be unveiled at the zoo some time in the first half of 2012.

The monument will be paid for by individual donations. Some €10,000 of the projected €15,000 needed for the project has already been collected.

Remains Sent to Museum

In an interview with SPIEGEL International last summer, Berlin Zoo Director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz said the sculpture of Knut would have to be life-sized, to fit in the natural surroundings of the zoo. "If you have nature around you, the art should be in the same manner," he said.

The zoo has already created monuments to two other famous animals, including Bobby, the zoo's first gorilla, who arrived in 1928, and the hippo Knautschke, who was injured at the zoo during World War II and died in 1988.

Following his death, Knut's skull and hide were sent to the Natural History Museum in Berlin, where they will be prepared in a form of taxidermy that involves stretching the animal's hide over a plastic form made in its size. There, Knut will join Bobby, the gorilla, who is displayed in a section of the museum explaining how such taxidermy is performed.

--mbw

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