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Sep 22, 2008

Knut's zookeeper has passed away...

Image3031583g_2 According to AP Reports and CBS News, the zookeeper who hand-reared Knut the abandoned polar bear has passed away. No cause of death has been revealed. From the story:

"With his burly build, beard and ponytail, Doerflein was a distinctive figure at the side of the growing bear. He nursed young Knut in his arms behind closed doors and wrestled with him after the bear grew old enough to play.

When Knut made his public debut in March 2007, Doerflein was at his side. They started a daily performance for the thousands of visitors who flocked to see the bear at his outdoor enclosure."

Barooooooooooooooooo! [Bear crying sound]

Let's take a look at Thomas Dorflein's legacy in one of the BEST Knut vids ever...

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What an extraordinary opportunity he had with Knut, and for being able to work as a zookeeper for all those years. Godspeed, Thomas.

bats :[
 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 05:27 PM

God must've needed a helper to care for all the furry, feathered and scaly friends that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge...

Rest well, dear sir. Millions of animal lovers, and all polar bears, mourn your passing.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 05:29 PM

There's a special place in heaven for people like him!

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 05:34 PM

(the post that was briefly published right after this one will return later... moment of silence, y'know)

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 05:34 PM

Awww...Is Knut now old enough to be ok with out his human helper? So sad!!


 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 05:37 PM

what sad news! I can hear Knut crying.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 05:38 PM

So sad! He was so young. And I like looking him as much as looking at Knut :)

Laura K.
 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 05:50 PM


 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 05:54 PM

So sad.
He did such a wonderful job with Knut. :/

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 06:01 PM

Rest in Peace, Polar Bear Daddy. You've left quite a legacy.

Big smooshy hugs to Knut, who surely is shedding big polar bear tears for his Papa.


 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 06:04 PM

My deepest condolences to the loved ones and most of all, of course, to Knut.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 06:12 PM

Very touching indeed...I cried...

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 06:26 PM

Cute AND sad. :(


 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 06:41 PM

Baroooooo indeed. What a lovely man. I don't know that I would call him "burly" though.

Karen G.
 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 06:47 PM

Such a shame, to pass so young. Do you think Knut knows his person has passed on? Condolences to Thomas' family, his zoo family and to Knut. They have all lost a wonderful human today.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 06:51 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZoRQBTqpOI Try this one, peeps... Barroooooo! indeed!

Boomer's Babysitter
 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 07:09 PM

"A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to
help..." Thomas gave his all for Knut, for other animals, and for all of us
who care so deeply. Thank you, Thomas, for all you have done for animals and for mankind...

Totalee Puppy
 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 07:11 PM

Oh Barooooooo. We'll all miss you, Thomas Doerflein. Thanks for the wunnerful job with Knut. I love the idea of you being at the Rainbow Bridge, meeting all our furry fuzzy scaley spikey and finny friends....
RIP, Herr Doerflein.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 07:14 PM

Im sure he was very happy to take care of Knut and other animals until the day he died. Hug your family and pets everyday, you never know! :)

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 07:44 PM

What a gentle soul.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 07:47 PM

If any nuffers even THINK of trying to post, I hope The Management whaps you like a Scottish fold IT kitteh whaps a recalcitrant printer.

I hadn't seen this video before: very touching from the gently wielded bebeh's hairbrush to the tucking in with soft toy and sheepskin, avec pinups of big bears.


 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 07:52 PM

He put pictures of Knut's family in the 'crib' for Knut to look at! That right there pushed me over the edge from 'sad' to 'weepy'.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 08:12 PM


 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 08:18 PM

I'll pour out a 40 for Doerflein tonight.

Mourn him 'til we join him....

Dexter Fishmore
 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 08:22 PM

Such sad news. :(

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 08:30 PM

I hear they needed someone to help at the Rainbow Bridge.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 08:38 PM

He is in heaven tonight, surrounded by beautiful, grateful animals to keep him warm.

G-d bless such a kind, caring man.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 08:45 PM

You know, he won worldwide fame for his caring and nurturing, and helped bring delight to millions of people. Not a bad legacy when you think about it.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 08:50 PM

Karen G, I agree 'burly' isn't exactly apt.

What a generous, devoted soul. So young! Too young. Godspeed, Thomas, and warm wishes to your loved ones, bipeds and quadripeds alike.

warrior rabbit
 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 09:04 PM

God Speed.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 09:05 PM


 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 09:14 PM

Good speed, good man. Thank you for reminding us of the important things in this life.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 09:17 PM

OMG SO SAD. and so unexpected. BarOOOOoooooo...

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 09:33 PM

That poor little bear isn't having the best of luck in this lifetime.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 09:36 PM

Vielen dank, Herr Doerflein.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 09:39 PM


The German article says he's been ill for a long time. He was visiting someone, when he suddenly clutched his chest and sank to the floor. But no more is known about the cause of his death at the moment.

 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 11:34 PM


 |  Sep 22, 2008 at 11:38 PM

I'm sure Knut will miss his "mummy" very much. What a shame.

 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 01:35 AM

Why am I welling up!?

 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 04:01 AM

This man's impact will last far longer than his too-short life. He inspired the world with his premium brand of interspecies snorgling. And by caring for Knut - who became a world star - he gave us a lovable symbol for the plight of all polar bear in the wild.

If the polar bears are to be saved - Knut and Thomas certainly deserve a portion of the credit.

I'm so happy the powers-that-be saw fit to honor him while he was still alive to realize how appreciated he was.

 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 04:41 AM

so many of us would dream of having the opportunity to have had the experience he did - what a wonderful time that must have been for him. Thoughts and prayers to his family!!

 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 05:10 AM

:( - such a good soul.

 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 05:16 AM

May Thomas rest in peace in the great kingdom of animals on the other side.

This man is what a true HERO is--not what is held before our society.

He put himself in the background to ensure the survival of one bear cub. Remember PETA wanted Knut euthanized, at first.
If not for Mr. Doerflein and his care, we would not have had this wonderful bear bringing smiles worldwide.

 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 05:52 AM

Baroooooooo :(

Many thoughts to his all of his family - human and bear - my heart is breaking for Knut. Like Redbone said, I'm sure he has a wonderful job at the rainbow bridge.

Floyd's Mom
 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 06:26 AM


Go cheer yourself up by watching this Knut video . . . tiny polar bear proshness, lil' kid singing in German, need I say more??


 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 07:02 AM

Latest news from Germany.

The state prosecutor has ordered a post mortem to rule out any possibility of murder. Not that anybody expected that, but it was a move to forestall any speculation by the yellowpress. In the course of that it turned out, that Doerflein died of a heart attack.

In German obituaries "nach langer, schwerer Krankheit" (after a long and harsh illness) usually codifies that the family has expected the death. That code was used in Doerfleins obits.

 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 09:14 AM

How sad! May you pass peacefully in to the next life Herr Doerflein. My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. His life touched so many that did not know him, I can only imagine how deeply his loss is felt by those that did.

 |  Sep 23, 2008 at 09:45 AM

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