Memories from the Knuipe and KWM by Ralph

Jan 24th, 2018 | By | Category: Ralph's reports


My first memory comes from before the Knuipe and KWM were published and I visited Knut in 2008 and spoke to Thomas Doerflein for the last time, promising to meet him and Knut in the Spring, but sadly it was not to be.

December 2010 was a time of mixed emotions. Many were worried that Knut was not coping with being on the big enclosure with the three ladies. For me, it was a chance to wish him well.

These were my reports from the Knuipe:

 photo 05 12 10 Report.jpg

 photo 07 12 10 Report.jpg

That visit to Berlin was perhaps my most memorable and Mervi reported it for me in KWM.

A tale of two bears or three or four ….

The origins of my relationship with Berlin and Knut were told in this story in KWM in 2014, which still reflects my memories of those times and my thoughts about Knut and Thomas Doerflein. Unfortunately the photos don’t show anymore.

Verliebt in Berlin, verliebt in Knut

2015 was to be another dramatic year for me and was a mixture again of sadness and hope.

My mother spent her last year being looked after in a home in Oxford and appeared in KWM with a bear also called Ursula.

 photo Ursula meets Ursula.jpg

That year I was able to leave Mum for a day in the Summer to travel to Berlin for what I thought might be my farewell visit to Katjuscha.

Ralph und Monika bei den Berliner Eisbären



Unlike in 2010 this visit was not to be my last opportunity. Although Mother Ursula left me in December 2015, just five years after my last meeting with Knut, it was to be the beginning of a regular series of visits to Katjuscha, and other Polar Bears.

Collage by Doro

Thank you Mervi for allowing me to share my journey with others. My only regret is that I could not record that last visit in September 2008 when I said Auf Wiedersehen to Thomas Doerflein. But at least I have a memory of a man at ease with his bear and chatting to a friendly visitor.

Video by Doro


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  1. Dear Ralph,

    What a nostalgie trip you offer us!

    I remember Knut’s 4th birthday so well. It was one of the snowy birthdays but the rather cold weather hadn’t prevented Knut friends to come and celebrate the birthday bear.

    It has always been wonderful to visit Berlin but also reading others’ reports has been great. They have made me to do the trip again …. and again …. and again! 🙂

    Mother Ursula was an important part of our Knuipe family and it felt like I knew her personally. I’m sure she’s smiling in her heaven when she’s reading your article.

    I hope you’ll be flying with Knutitours even in the future and I quote Kati: ‘Please, don’t sail away!’ 🙂

    Hugs from Mervi

  2. Dear Ralph

    Thank you for the memories around your CCC visits.
    Who could have believe, that your beloved Kati
    is the only bear alive, ten years later. We some-
    times had fear, because her health wasn´t too
    good. But the keepers did a miracle with Kati.
    Your mother Ursula will never be forgotten.
    She reminds me on my own mother: they
    both were from the generation, who had
    to suffer of the second World
    young girls(women. This generation
    was so strong, to built up destroyd
    countries, although they shurely
    were traumatised of the War…
    We won´t forget Knut, who´ve
    brought so many different
    people together…. 🙂

    Chris 🙂

  3. Dear Ralph,

    Thank you for your reflections!

    xo k-j

  4. Lieber Ralph,

    vielen Dank für deine wundervollen Erinnerungen rund um die Bären, die du heute nochmal zu diesem besonderen Jubiläum in Mervis Blog mit uns teilst.
    Ich bin froh fĂĽr dich, dass du deine geliebte Kati immer noch besuchen kannst und die Erinnerungen an Knut, Tosca, Nancy und Lars in Berlin bleiben unvergessen und deine mother Ursula auch!

    Herzliche GrĂĽĂźe

  5. Dear Ralph, thank you for bringing me back to these good old days. Often I am dreaming that they would come back. And like Chris wrote: Kati is the only one who survived this decade. And I believe that this was thanks to your adoration. She is keeping on waiting for her greatest fan to pay her a visit as much as he can.
    I also recall our chats about “who is the most intelligent polar bear: Knut or Raspi?”.
    From the bottom of my heart, I hope that we all can continue to make another 10 years.

  6. Dear Ralph!
    Thank you for sharing your precious memories with us!

    I was really touched when I read your personal reflections about Knut´s fourth birthday, especially the story of the little cub you bought which was given the feature of a voice box that regave the sucking noise of little Knut. Nobody who knew and loved Knut as a cub from the beginning will ever forget this sound.

    The photo of your mother with the big white plush bear on the chair beside her is lovely. Two charming Ursulas!

    Furthermore I got very sentimental when looking at the pic of Aika and remembered all the beautiful bears we lost since then who will stay in loving memory.
    I also liked the video.

    I hope you will see Kati in good health again in spring!


  7. Dear Ralph,
    it was a wonderful time as Knut was alive. Sometimes I think how different it would be if Knut would be still alive.
    Unfortunately we cannot change the things.
    Kathi, Flocke and Raspi are still with us. Flocke and Raspi got a beautiful daughter Hope. There is still hope for the happy stories from the life around us.

  8. Lieber Ralph,

    ich habe mir auch noch einmal Deine Berichte und Fotos angeschaut. Schön dass Doro diese damals in deutsch übersetzt hat.
    Ich kannte einige Berichte zwar schon, habe aber einiges schon “vergessen”. Es waren sehr schöne Erlebnisse in Zoo und Tierpark. Es ist schön, auch Aika mal wiederzusehen.

    Besonders berührend finde ich immer noch das Foto von Mother Ursula mit dem großen Eisbären.

    Und sehr interessant fand ich den Artikel, den ich noch nicht kannte “Verliebt in Berlin, verliebt in Knut”.
    Nun habe ich Dich noch etwas “näher” kennengelernt.

    Liebe GrĂĽĂźe auch von Deiner Kati

  9. Lieber Ralph,
    schöne Erinnerungen und die werden immer bleiben!
    Danke Dir für deine ganz persönliche Geschichte.
    Liebe GrĂĽĂźe Moni K

  10. Lieber Ralph,
    vielen lieben Dank für all Deine schönen Erinnerungen an die gute alte Knut-Zeit und das aus Deiner ganz persönlichen Sicht. Ich finde es richtig klasse, dass Du Deine vielen Eisbär-Abenteuer mit uns bei Knutitours/Knuipe teilst. Das Foto von Deiner lieben Mutter Ursula im Seniorenstift mit dem großen Bären auf dem Schaukelstuhl fand ich schon damals allerliebst und sehr anrührend.
    Es ist doch traumhaft, dass wir bei Mervi solch wunderbare Bären-Plattform haben, die besonders uns Knutfreunden viel Freude bereitet. Jeder Mitreisende bei Knutitours ist etwas ganz Besonderes.
    Dir nun ganz liebe GrĂĽĂźe von

  11. This brings back memories! . . . It was such a good idea to qhote some of your comments while and after having visiting KNUT for his 4th birthday in 2010 in Berlin! . . . Your words in those quotes and the choice of your pictures make things very authentic the more you have got even more big in the meantime in contribuing and comenting since those days – you are always very present, even when far away (due to MERVI’s platforms and due to your sticking still strong to everything around KNUT and polar bears and animals in general and also to your memories around all your experiences while having been abroad during your business life )..

    I had a good laugh because of your QUOTE of comment ’11:15 AM on DECEMBER 5, 2010′, speaking about the ‘GOLDEN GIRLS’ aka ‘DIE DREI DAMEN VOM GRILL’ entering the scene/enclosure:
    “…or rather for those who know them better sizing up which of the two legged meaty visitors would be a light snack if only the horrid ditch was not in the way!’

    It was good to see your affection towards polar bears again in these beautiful memories of yours.

    Thank you very much, dear RALPH. . . . . .Whatever the journey of your life will bring, please never lose your special kind of sense of humour and self-mockery. . . . It’s good your ‘Mother Ursula’ has got big in the blog in the course of the time and it’s nice to meet her again ‘in person’ by a very nice picture you took of her with a big stuffed polar bear. Seeing this picture one can easily imagine how much you miss her . . .

    – – – –
    I’d like to highly recommend to other watchers/readers to click DORO L.’s Video ( greetings to DORO from here – hope she is still there somewhere! She made e.g. this very touching tribute to KNUT ‘SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY’: . . and ‘Honey Paw KNUT: ).

  12. Lieber Ralph!

    Wunderschöne Erinnerungen, auch an Deine Liebe Mama. Danke Dir, dass Du so viele schöne Erlebnisse mit uns teilst.
    Es ist grossartig, dass Du und andere dank Mervii und KWM diese Möglichkeit haben.

    Liebe GrĂĽĂźe, Erika

  13. dear Ralph,
    thank you very much for your sweet memories. It is so touching to read all the former comments. I think I can imagine how you were feeling when being in Zoo Berlin with Knut and all the dear keepers and friends.You all have made these journeys because of Knut.
    For me it was a gift to meet you and the other dear friends in Berlin. It is wonderful to be a little member of the Knut family
    dear greetings to you

  14. Thanks dear Ralph for your memories of the wonderful bears from Berlin. It was a special but short time Like a fairy tale.
    Lots of greetings