Knut captured the attention of the world after his keeper, Thomas Dorflein, raised the cuddly polar bear that was rejected by his own mother. Knut's early death from a brain infection left hundreds of Berlin zoo visitors shocked, and saddened Knut lovers around the world.
To mark the one-year anniversary of Knut's passing, the Friends of the Berliner Zoo have launched a competition to select the artist for a life-size sculpture of the young Knut to grace the Berlin Zoo. As in life, the tragic threads twining Knut, his keeper, and his fans can be seen in one submission for the Knut memorial.
Sculpture With a StoryThe sculpture by Margarete Ogaza pulls at the heart strings even before its story is known. A tiny white ceramic Knut lies in the loving caress of Thomas Dorflein's hands. Named "Threatened life in your hands (Bedrohtes Leben in Deiner Hand)," Ogaza designed the sculpture as a gift to Knut's keeper. Her intention to give the sculpture to Dorflein on Knut's second birthday was dashed by the premature death of the man who saved Knut.
Ogaza, now 94 years old, never saw the polar bear in life. She followed the story of Knut and Dorflein in the news and on television. She based her sculpture on a photo in the book Knut, der kleine Eisbär (Knut, the Little Polar Bear). When she saw the news of the competition for a Knut memorial, her sculpture finally found a purpose.
See All the Knut Memorial SubmittalsThe Berliner Kurier has published photos of all of the submittals for the Knut memorial. Number 12 depicts the sculpture by Margarete Ogaza.
The Berliner Kurier solicits votes from the public, but the votes are not officially linked with the decision on which sculpture will be chosen. According to the Berliner Tagesspiegel, the final decision will be made on the 10th of January by Thomas Ziolko, the Chairman of the Friends of the Berlin Zoo organization, together with the Director and the Manager of the Berlin Zoo.