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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bear Celebrity

posted by on March 26 at 11:15 AM

The polar bear…
…and the problem with that polar bear:

Knut the polar bear has turned from a cuddly cub into a publicity-addicted psycho, one of his keepers claimed yesterday.

Markus Roebke said Berlin Zoo’s celebrity animal was obsessed with the limelight and howled with rage when denied an audience.

“Knut must go and the sooner the better,” he said, insisting that the bear should be sent to an animal park where he received less attention.

“He is addicted to the whole show, the human adulation. It is not healthy.

“He actually cries out or whimpers if he sees that there is not a spectator outside his enclosure ready to ooh and aah at him.

“When the zoo had to shut because of black ice everywhere he howled until staff members stood before him and calmed him down.”

Knut was rejected by his mother after he was born in December 2006, prompting some animal activists to say it would be better for him to die than to be weaned by man.

The zoo let him live however and he has become a major attraction, pulling in 6million in revenue so far.

Again: What is it that separates the human animal from all other animals? Today I want to add another crucial difference: A human animal’s talents are not trapped in its body. For the most part, if an animal has a talent, that talent is locked in its body; its talent is its own wholly. Animals cannot socialize their individual gifts in any significant way. With humans, gifts can be transmitted across a Tardian network of repetition. If someone is good with, say, medicine, that good is not trapped in the person’s body. All other human bodies can benefit from that one person’s particular good. Not to share, then, is to be less human and more an animal.

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The Klondike never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

Posted by nbc | March 26, 2008 11:21 AM

This has to be the dumbest thing I've ever read. Human talents aren't trapped inside our bodies? Ever? I'm certainly grateful for the pole-dancing stripper sharing her talents to society as a whole. Or the billion dollar fashion and cosmetics industry. That industry is really all about inner beauty after all. Many species of animals are actually much better at being social with their kind than humans are. If having one's talents trapped inside one's body means that we don't get to travel to foreign countries and kill other humans, then I think I'd rather be a non-human animal.

Posted by commenter | March 26, 2008 11:25 AM

While I agree in general, there are exceptions. Besides animals changing their environment, I'd point out that bees have "waggle dances" to tell each other where to find food, and birds learn songs from neighbors, leading to local dialects.

Posted by eclipse | March 26, 2008 11:26 AM

this is why wild animals should not be given theme songs, no matter how cute you think they are.

The general 'don't turn animals into humans' rule goes for duck shows and any kind of clothing, even on domesticated animals.

Posted by dbell | March 26, 2008 11:27 AM

I know how Knut feels. As a leader of opinion here on the Slog, I've learned it's hard to be a major celebrity. I was also rejected by my mother and a bunch of animal activists wanted to see me dead for it. Fuckers! Who's your daddy now, PETA?

Posted by elenchos | March 26, 2008 11:30 AM

So... the bear's turning into Britney Spears?

Posted by Mike of Renton | March 26, 2008 11:31 AM

On the whole animal talent thing, I've got to strongly disagree with you, Charles. Monkeys that are good at picking fleas out of their fellow monkeys' hair fill the same social role that a good doctor does. There are probably a million more examples that aren't worth going into right now

My first reaction is that the difference has much more to do with the level of specialization humans attain. No monkey would make it in the wild if it needed 18+ years of education to pick fleas off its neighbor.

Posted by dbell | March 26, 2008 11:36 AM

@2, that dancer you speak of is able to teach other people to dance similarly - talents not trapped in body. Ok, perhaps he has a particularly sexy gyration that is available only to his body, but the point still stands.
The cosmetics industry is NOT about inner beauty, it's about creating a false beauty that didn't exist before.
You know, maybe you already are a non-human animal... you aren't, say, a Dog on the Internet, are you? We'd have no way of knowing from here.

As for Knut, well, further proof that all creatures need creatures of their own species around them for proper mental development. Are his talents trapped? Or do polar bears learn different hunting skills from each other? Hmm..


Posted by treacle | March 26, 2008 11:45 AM

Please don't feed the Mudede.

Posted by Spoogie | March 26, 2008 11:56 AM

OMG, Britney has gotten SO fat and hairy! What a trainwreck.

Posted by monkey | March 26, 2008 11:57 AM

Wrong again. What about chimps that hunt with spears and "fish" for termites? Some are better than others, and they share their food with the rest.
Maybe it's time for you to admit that there *is* no concrete difference between humans and other animals.

Posted by julia | March 26, 2008 11:58 AM

or maybe charles needs to reform his stupid crap criteria for what makes us human.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 26, 2008 12:02 PM

Knut is so last year. It's all about Flocke now. (Besides, even last year all the cool fans of bear cubs in Berlin were into Ernst.)

Posted by Abby | March 26, 2008 12:23 PM

I was a polar bear for a couple years in the late eighties, but the pay wasn't all that hot, so I ended up going back to school.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 26, 2008 12:46 PM

OMG!! This is too funny!! I TOLD you he was a gay polar bear! Remember that pic when he was a cute little baby bear looking like he was heading to the gym with the dumbbell in his mouth?

Christ, now he has become the total self centered faggot I told you he would become. He should probably start going out on the weekends at some of the clubs.

Posted by Andrew | March 26, 2008 12:55 PM

Knuts trainer played with him and hugged him and loved him while people watched and cheered. Knut learned to associate feeling good with people watching and cheering. Shouldn't be any surprise he misses the crowds. All animals, including humans, like to feel good.

Posted by crazycatguy | March 26, 2008 1:21 PM

Charles, every time you try these "what seperates the human animal from all others" posts, you're the one who looks Tardian. Perhaps you should learn a bit more about animals if you really want to pursue this theoretical tangent. For one, the sharing of talents is common in all social beings, not just humans. If a wolf is a particularly gifted hunter, her entire pack benefits from that. Chimps teach each other basic tool use, and can transfer that knowledge from one group to another. Dolphins and elephants have been known to care for the injured, and again 'share their talent.' Hell, even adventageous genetic mutations can be seen as a 'talent' passed along through the gene pool.

I mean, really, it only takes but a minute to think these arguments through.

Posted by johnnie | March 26, 2008 2:31 PM

Sounds to me like a perfect match - for the Britster!

Get those two attention-whores hooked up!

Posted by COMTE | March 26, 2008 2:34 PM

I'll pile on Chuck here as well.

There are so many examples of different species of animals (and more to the point, populations) having specific, flexible cultural traits. It's PISS-POOR writing and neglectful to not even 'google' a few animal studies. Human behavior is not that unique.

Posted by cw | March 26, 2008 2:44 PM

We are animals and not sharing is a very human trait the same as giving.
We share many traits with other animals.
The deciding what makes us human and not animals is just a sign of insecurity on behalf of some people that think we are not animals.
We are.

Posted by -B- | March 26, 2008 4:27 PM

Knut rejected by his mother, now rejected by his keepers, and soon to be rejected by his adoring fans. Holy Gheezuz it's just like Hollywood!

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | March 26, 2008 5:31 PM

I know a few bears that are the same way...

Posted by Wes | March 26, 2008 10:20 PM

I guess this story never gets old. Here's one from January:

"Knut is a psychopath and will never mate, say experts"

Posted by josh | March 27, 2008 12:52 PM

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