Final Verdict: Knut Drowned

Cause of the brain swelling not known, says pathologist
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2011 6:20 AM CDT
Final Verdict: Knut Drowned
FILE - This photo taken with a mobile phone on Saturday, March 19, 2011, shows the lifeless body of dead polar bear Knut at the Zoo in Berlin. Germany's celebrity polar bear Knut died from drowning after collapsing due to swelling of his brain and falling into his enclosure's pool, according to expert...   (AP Photo/Carlo Anfossi, File)

The sad final verdict is in: Celebrity polar bear Knut died from drowning. But the four-year-old's collapse into his enclosure's pool at the Berlin Zoo was caused by encephalitis, according to a necropsy performed on the bear. The AP reports that a zoo pathologist said she could not tell what caused the encephalitis—a swelling of the brain likely brought on by an infection—but ruled out rabies, botulism, and mad cow disease. Even if Knut had not drowned, the damage from the brain swelling would have killed him, reported the pathologist.

Some animal rights groups have tried to blame Knut's death on stress caused by living in a zoo, but the pathologist said there were no signs stressed played any part. Knut was rejected by his mother at birth in December 2006, and was raised instead by zookeepers, soon becoming an animal celebrity at the zoo. (More Knut stories.)

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