Were pesticides to blame for the death of Knut, the polar bear?
Many thousands of people mourn the sudden death of Knut, the polar bear. He was the darling at a German zoo. Why did Knut die? Initial autopsy results showed that Knut, the polar bear, suffered from a brain disease. A former animal keeper at a zoo reported the death of gorilla babies dying from pesticide use. The keeper herself fell ill and nearly died. Were pesticides the cause of death of the polar bear, Knut? Recent scientific research has shown that pesticides cause different brain diseases. What caused Knut’s brain disease will require further investigation. It is possible, because pesticides are used regularly in zoos to keep the zoo animals free of vermin.
All mourn the loss of Knut, the polar bear
In the media, on Twitter and Facebook, the death of Knut, the polar bear , remains the main topic for days now. The sweet polar bear was raised by a nurse with a bottle in the German zoo after his mother abandoned him. The little polar bear in no time, won the hearts of all the visitors. Now the sadness is great, and the cause of Knut’s brain disease is still under investigation. Zoo visitors witnessed the polar bear turning itself around several times and falling into the pond. Over 500 people observed the death of this polar bear and reported that he had an epileptic-like seizure before he sank into the water in his polar bear enclosure. Knut’s keeper also died suddenly at the age of 44 from a heart attack in 2008.
Dream job, but health went downhill
The young woman worked in one of the biggest zoos in Germany. She loved her job as a veterinary nurse above everything. She was responsible for the gorillas. With the bottle, she helped gorilla babies grow when needed. Most of all, she never wanted to go home after work because she loved her job so much. During her training, her health was deteriorating. The reason for her health decline was first discovered years later. Several radiological studies including SPECT, CT, and MRT scans of her brain showed severe brain damage and atrophy. Pesticides were the reason the keeper’s health went downhill.
Gorilla babies dead due to the use of pesticides
During training, the young keeper had to deal with pesticides during the spraying of the gorilla’s sleeping quarters. The pesticide nerve agents, pyrethroids and organophosphates were used. The young woman had to spray the sleeping caves. As she kneeled in front of the caves, she couldn’t avoid breathing in the poison. “The gorilla babies died, and now I know it was because they were exposed to the pesticides,” she told me several years ago when we met at a special clinic. Her immune and nervous system were severely damaged, and she had problems with her muscles and her heart was weakening. Her hair was falling out and she had the typical nerve agent seizures. She stated, “I initiated a workers’ compensation lawsuit and won.” There was no question that the health of the animal keeper was destroyed by pesticides.
Knut died from pesticide exposure?
We do not know exactly which brain disease Knut, the public’s favorite animal in the Berlin Zoo, suffered from, but further studies will hopefully determine the nature and cause of his brain disease. Pesticides may well be on the short list, because they are regularly used in zoos to keep the zoo animals free of fleas and other parasites. Certain herbicides, which are often used on pavements and along roadsides in zoos in order to be kept free of weeds, are quite capable of causing life-threatening seizures.
Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, March 21, 2011
Translation: Thanks to Christi Howarth.