Ok, this is overdue since Friday, and it is not something I will say much about, but here’s Knut.
Why am I not saying much? For one thing, the museum has an official opinion, and I agree with the general statements. Thus, I am not going to write anything shockingly new anyways, at best a minor difference in detail. You can find the MfN’s German press release on this page (English version here, you may need to scroll down).
There has been quite some public debate on what to do with Knut’s cadaver, and many museum employees (including me) received some rather annoying emails (unsolicited, obviously) with dire warning and a lot of random capitalization and supernumerary exclamation marks. By now most people are happy with the outcome: the skeleton in the collection, the hide used in a taxidermic mount (and no, that’s not a stuffed skin), for public display and research, plus a little memorial in the zoo where Knut lived. Am I happy? Well, I understand the memorial statue, but I would not have spent any money on it. Some of the Knut-fever had and has gotten out of hand, into unhealthy proportions. The worship that some few people perform is decidedly unhealthy.
Some of the facebook comments on the MfN’s page were, well, not very articulated and not making much sense, I am afraid, but that was to be expected. One topic repeatedly surfacing there and in radio call-ins was that the mount looks “wrong”. No, it is not really wrong – it is just not conformal to the mental image people have of a polar bear. The can look very fluffy, especially when they move, but if you compare photographs of them you will see that for each bear, the fluffiness varies during the year, and during the day depending on how wet the fur is, and what the bear is doing. So the people saying Knut doesn’t look fluffy enough are probably just comparing to a mental image that is different. Same goes for the pose: it looks kinda weird how the right foot is placed, but I just checked a bunch of photos and suddenly it does not look weird at all.
Hm, I have a photo of the Knut memorial somewhere, but I can’t find it. Need a proper database for my photos. Anyone knows one that is free or affordable, and survives periodic shifts of big chunks of photos to other storage media?