Full title:

Flinterud, G. 'Polar Bear Knut and His Blog', in Thorsen, L.E., Rader, K.A. and Dodd, A. (eds.), Animals on Display: the Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History (Pennsylvania University Press, 2013), pp. 192-213.


Flinterud offers an in-depth examination of a blog that took the famous Berlin polar bear 'Knut' as its subject. She relates the way in which the original intention of this blog - to present the bear in an innocent, somewhat whimsical, entertaining light via stories purporting to have been written by the bear himself - could not be sustained in the face of online disputes between readers. As Flinterud comments, 'Originally planned as a place free of opinion, the many heated discussions that ensued reveal that the "story of Knut" carried connotations far exceeding the one-dimensional representation of a cute cub around which the blog was built.' (193)

Of particular note, Flinterud suggests, were the interventions of a contributor who took the name of an animal rights activist, 'Frank Albrecht.' Albrecht and others' critical interventions, Flinterud notes, interrupted an already-established pattern of gentle, enthusiastic commentary, causing a number of longer-term contributors to take offence. The resulting discussions, she argues, were demonstrative of ways in which 'The blog format opened up a new arena of conversations about animals, where ordinary people from all over the world were able to meet and exchange opinions... The blog presented fans with like-minded people that they would never have encountered elsewhere, and it provided them with a space to let down their guard and cultivate the silly, playful side of their interest in animals.' (210)

'Although the blog was established as a fiction, intended for childish amusements and diversion, the adult fans slowly took over the power of definition and turned the blog into a community of awareness, constantly negotiating the meaning of "Knut" through friendly exchanges, quarrels with annoying "intruders," and disagreements among themselves.' (211)