1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germans Up In Arms Over Shooting of Bruno the Bear

DW staff (als)July 3, 2006

Germans protested in Berlin on Saturday the shooting last week of "Bruno" the brown bear. Many have requested criminal charges be brought against those responsible for the bear's death.

Bruno, officially known as "JJ1," continues to haunt after his deathImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

With all the hype, you'd think Bruno were staging yet another publicity stunt -- this time, from the grave. Bruno has gained so much popularity and support both in Germany and around the world that 300 people staged a protest near the Berlin Cathedral on Saturday.

Demonstration leader Kurt Eicher told the AFP news agency that evidence clearly showed that Bruno had been wrongly shot. Eicher also accused the Bavarian Environment Ministry of violating the law protecting endangered animals by giving the "shoot-to-kill" order to hunters.

Animal protection groups file formal complaints

Das Bayern von Bruno
Idyllic Bavaria is where Bruno met his death last weekImage: AP

Bavarian Environment Minister Werner Schnappauf has been under fire himself for his shoot-to-kill order. Munich prosecutors said they have received a flood of requests asking that criminal charges be brought against Schnappauf and others responsible for the decision to kill the bear.

The public prosecutor's office said it would decide at the end of the week whether it would begin preliminary proceedings.

A poll last week by the Forsa Institute of over 1,000 Germans said 70 percent of Germans agreed with the shooting, but regretted Bruno's death. Only 24 percent said they were relieved that the bear no longer posed a threat.

Still, Bruno was on World Cup fans' minds over the weekend. As toymakers prepare to produce a teddy bear to immortalize the animal, some fans on Berlin's Fan Mile and at the quarter-final win over Argentina waved placards in his memory. "Revenge for Bruno," read one.

The Web site that originally coined a song to commemorate the bear and "Hunt Bruno" game have since created the "Bruno's Revenge" game.

Italy wants its bear back

Meanwhile, the cadaver of the bear the media dubbed "Bruno" is currently in deep freeze, but is scheduled to be stuffed and placed in a museum. Bruno, however, stemmed from the Italian region of Trentino. According to the AP and DPA news agencies, Italian Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio will formally ask Germany on Monday to give back Bruno's body.

Bruno was killed by a government-sanctioned hunter in Bavaria last week after having first been spotted in Germany in May. Part of a project to reintroduce the predators to northern Italy, the bear roamed into Austria and Germany, killed sheep and rabbits, stole honey and was in the headlines across Europe for weeks.

Fearing the two-year-old bear would one day target humans, officials in the southern state of Bavaria granted permission to kill him even though he was the first wild bear to be seen in Germany since 1835.

Italian Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio has protested the killing and said that the bear should have been shot with tranquilizers and transported back to Italy.