Preliminary results from the necropsy of Knut the polar bear suggest the four year old bear suffered from epilepsy. In a statement released to PEOPLE, pathologists determined that Knut’s brain showed “considerable mutations,” while the rest of his organs appeared to be normal.
Zoo director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz speculated that “The examination results, together with Knut’s final movements look a lot like an epileptic seizure.” Shortly before he died, Knut walked in circles, his left hind leg jittering and dragging. Then he stopped and convulsed before falling into the water in his compound.
Epilepsy is similar in animals and humans and can be the result of complications in pregnancy or birth. In Knut’s case, his mother rejected him at birth and he lay in the birthing cave for several hours before he could be rescued by bear keeper Thomas Dorflein.
In addition, epilepsy appears to run in Knut’s family. His father, Lars, exhibited symptoms of epilepsy last year.
While the Berlin Zoo continues testing – bacteriology and histeriology – Knut’s fur has already been removed for taxidermy. Berlin’s Museum of Natural History will reportedly have Knut stuffed for a permanent exhibit that includes other zoo animals that Berliners were especially fond of, including Kiri the elephant.
Click here to see our gallery celebrating Knut’s short life.