We’ve been too busy with real news lately to give him a proper farewell, but the little-turned-not-so-little guy provided many a palate cleanser in his day. We owe him a post. I just wish it could be less creepy than this.

KNUT likely died from brain damage, his zoo keepers said today as plans were revealed to have the polar stuffed and put on display in Berlin museum to allow fans a chance to say their farewells…

Frank Albrecht, an animal rights activist, said that the death may well have been caused “by an interaction of incest, inherited disease and stress.”

Many Knut fan communities agreed, noting that the male bear seemed particularly downtrodden when he was confined to a compound with three older females, including his mother, Tosca, who had rejected him at birth.

His female companions constantly bit him to show that he occupied the lowest rung in the social hierarchy. When they pushed him away from the feeding trough, keepers decided he should be fed separately. To regular visitors it seemed as though Knut had become apathetic, even depressed.

He won’t be the first famous animal to spend eternity on perpetual display. But even so, let me see a virtual show of hands: Who else would find it unnerving to encounter the mounted hide of an animal for which you’d felt some affection during life? It’s one thing to make a souvenir from something you hunted and had no relationship with; it’s another to make a souvenir from a pet, which, let’s face it, is the role Knut played for a global village of news consumers. I can’t bring myself to watch the cell-phone video of his last moments even though they’re far less gruesome than the standard “call of the wild” bloodsport you’re apt to find at all hours on the “National Geographic” channel. Is that just my RINO candy-ass-ness showing or do others feel that way too? Once you imbue an animal with personality, it’s very hard to treat it as, well, an animal. They should just bury him somewhere in the zoo and make that an attraction if they’re looking to pay tribute somehow.

Here he is in better days. The man with the beard is his caretaker, zookeeper Thomas Dörflein, who won Berlin’s Medal of Merit for raising Knut after his mother abandoned him. Eighteen months after this video was shot, he collapsed and died of a heart attack. He was 44.