Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Knut Forever

Knut does not go away. For many Berliners, especially older ones, Knut is more than just an bear, he is part of the myth Berlin always has been. Not only does he symbolize the city's heraldic animal, but also its spirit, its rebirth. Knut lived at the historic Berlin Zoo, founded in 1844 as the oldest zoo in Germany. The zoo survived  World War I, was fortified against the Red Army in World War II, and eventually bombed. Older Berliners remember the night when screaming, wounded animals, some in flames, were  roaming the streets. Only ninety-one of more than three thousand critters survived the war. And later, when the Wall was built and the zoo ended up in the West part of Berlin, it symbolized the stronghold Berlin had become within a sea of Communism.

So, Knut was a soft reminder of those times, and people felt emotional about him. Hence the resistance against Bernhard Blaszkiewitz. the Zoo director who wants to stuff Knut. Blaszkiewitz, in addition, is really not a good zoo director, he is exploiting the animals, keeping many of them, especially the big cats, in cages way too small. Once, a chimpanzee bit off one of Blaszkiewitz' fingers, and all of Berlin was in glee. So, if Knut gets Blaszkiewitz fired, even after his dead, that would be a sign from heaven.

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