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Knut eating a birthday 'cake' at Berlin Zoo in December 2009. AP Photo/Franka Bruns

World famous polar bear Knut dies at Berlin Zoo

Four-year-old polar bear generated huge interest and funding for Berlin Zoo when he was hand-reared by keepers.

AN OFFICIAL AT BERLIN ZOO has announced that the polar bear Knut has died in his compound at the zoo.

Germany newspaper Der Spiegel said this afternoon that Heiner Klös, the zoo’s bear expert, said Knut was found floating dead in the enclosure today.

The cause of death is unknown and an autopsy is expected to be carried out on the young bear’s remains. Three other bears who share the enclosure had already been shut in elsewhere when he died.

Knut generated millions of fans around the world after images and videos of him as a small cub emerged. He was hand-reared by zookeepers after his mother rejected him.

He was the first polar bear born at the zoo in over 30 years and his fame helped the zoo with its fundraising efforts. The zoo had marked his fourth birthday in early December.