When teddy bears where first created in 1902, they were modelled after real bears grizzly bears, in fact. Since that time, manufacturers have drawn on other kinds of bears for inspiration, particularly the brown bear, the polar bear and the panda.
Those unaware of the origins of teddy bears, are likely also oblivious to the fact that the brown bear has a long history and connection to this iconic plush toy. When we see brown bears, we can’t help but think of teddy bears, thus we tend to put them into a category often reserved for domestic animals, when they are in fact, not. And, when we go on to purchase brown bear plush toy, we only further what we already thought and forget that these bears are wild and as is the case, deserve our utmost respect; brown bear plush are for fun, the wild ones, are not.
It’s no surprise that brown bear plush toys are so popular, particularly for children not interested in teddy bears. Since they resemble teddy bears to some degree, in a small way, they are getting a ‘teddy bear’ just the same. Brown bear plush toys makes a terrific ‘replacement’ teddy bear especially for a child that insists on having a ‘wild’ plush toy. While you may not think of brown bear plush toy as particularly cute and huggable, just because it’s not a teddy bear, your child will love it (and hug it) just the same it just can’t be helped, after all.
The direct ancestors of the bear we know today, appeared on earth approximately two and a half million years ago. Members of the bear family later divided into three distinct evolutionary lines: two in Asia the black and brown bears and the third in Europe. The European bear or ‘Cave Bear,’ as it’s more commonly known, became extinct thousands of years ago and its habitats were largely taken over by the brown bear. Today, bears are found on four of the six continents (the exceptions being Australia and Antarctica), and can be divided into eight recognized groups.
The brown bear is found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, including North America and countries that make up the former Soviet Union. Brown bears prefer to live in mountainous forested regions, large river valleys, and open meadows. Their heavy shaggy coats vary in color from black to cinnamon to golden. Brown bears have a muscular hump on their shoulders which distinguishes them from other species of bear. The grizzly is a large variety of brown bear found in North America. It’s brown fur has cream or white tips that give it a grizzled appearance, hence the bear’s name.
We are quite ‘familiar with’ brown bears given we see them on television, at zoos, and in the movies. That familiarity for children, draws them to brown bear plush toys because of their teddy-like appearance. And, since this is a wild animal that they have likely seen at some time in their lives, like many cute and cuddly looking wild animals, they want one to take home with them. Through imaginative play, a child’s brown bear plush animal can be anything they want it to be wild or tame the choice is theirs.
Angeline Hope is a collector of big teddy bears. You can view a selection of teddy bears and even brown bear plush toys at MyBigPlush.