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The Stuffed Plush Bear and The Translocation of Brown Bears December 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 1:15 pm

There’s nothing better than being able to snuggle up to your favorite stuffed plush bear, especially when you’re a kid. With some children having a stuffed plush bear they can never be parted from, no matter how beat up it might get over the years, one thing remains true: it’s the best friend and comforter any child could hope to have.

Brown bears living in France, can only be found in one place: the Pyrénées mountains. It’s here where two sub-populations of the species make their home; one is a central population that is growing and the other is an endemic western one created from a translocation. In field data from 1993 to 2005, that was collected and analyzed, researchers found that the bears in the western sub-population were not doing as well reproductively as the bears living in the central sub-population. 

Guillaume Chapron from the Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden and various colleagues say: “our results suggest that having a viable bear population in France requires further translocations. In particular, male bears need more females.” With the use of a population model, Chapron and colleagues were able to determine how many female bears would be needed for release so as to ensure long-term survival of the species. They were also able to compute how the current population would be able to recover if the right number of female bears were translocated.

In addition to the importance of increasing the brown bear population in the western sub-population, it’s also crucial for general conservation biology. Usually, when a translocation is going to take place, it’s recommended that the reasons for the decline [of a population] should be reversed first, before going ahead with moving animals into a specific area. In this case, however, the opposite is true given a translocation of brown bears will, as Chapron puts it, “ actually remove the biological mechanisms behind the decline.”

The stuffed plush bear you choose to bring home with you can certainly be a brown bear, or a black one, or even a white one for that matter. It doesn’t have to come from France as there is certainly no decline in the stuffed bear population to speak of – whether it’s in a local shop or on the Internet.


The Jumbo Plush Toy and How the Teddy Bear Remained Popular

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 1:09 pm

Every toy collection should have a jumbo plush toy or two in it. That’s not to say the collection is lacking without a jumbo plush toy, but it’s by no means complete.

Between the 1950’s and the 1960’s, there was a major rise in the West of living standards. This all took place at the same time that an unprecedented number of babies were being born. With more disposable income and the rise of the birth rate, it meant nothing but good news for the toy industry, however, competition was also fierce. This was the same period when Barbie (1959), G.I Joe (1964) and Action Man (1966) were all introduced. Teddy bears were already seen as a traditional toy which was loved by parents but not so much by a younger generation that was quickly becoming novelty hungry. In order to come up with a range of bears that would meet the need of the age, the industry had to react quickly and leading the way was Steiff (creator of the teddy bear) in Germany.

Steiff knew that its range of products needed to be updated if it was going to part of the economic recovery that was taking place. It started the process by moving away from the traditional designs of Richard Steiff (which are treasured today) and moving to a more modern classic teddy bear. In 1950, the new bear was registered and was offered at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. The new look of this teddy was  more like a bear cub than that of a grizzly bear. As it became evident that fewer and fewer children in the ten year old age range would admit to loving their old friend, the teddy bear had no choice but to set its sights on a younger audience. 

During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the head of the classic teddy bear became rounder and larger in proportion to the rest of its body. His muzzle also became less pronounced and its fur was cut short. Finally, his body was made fatter and younger looking and his ‘arms’ and legs’ were less exaggerated in shape and length.

In the next year, Steiff introduced Zotty whose name came from the German word zottig, which means ‘shaggy.’ Zotty had long curly brown-tipped mohair with a peach-colored bib that was set into his chest. His mouth was open and lined with felt and his paws pointed downward. A less popular version of Zotty was also designed – Sleeping or Flopping Zotty, positioned lying down with eyes closed. The idea behind this new bear was to produce a softer playmate for small children that would be an essential childhood friend that could be held and comforted, and, that could also give comfort in return. Zotty was a major success and as a result was imitated by many other German firms.

If deciding that  a jumbo plush toy will in fact make it into to a collection of stuffed animals, it can be whatever soft toy you want it to be. It goes without saying, however, that in order for the collection to truly be ‘complete,’ a jumbo plush toy teddy bear will have to be added.


Life Size Stuffed Animals and Teddy Bears Designed by Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 1:03 pm

Life size stuffed animals are exactly what you think they are: soft toys that are big as the real thing. Just imagine a plush black bear that’s 7.5 feet long and as wide as a queen sized bed – from nose to tail, the real thing can reach lengths of 7 feet. If it’s authenticity you’re looking for in your soft toys, you can have it with life size stuffed animals.

In the first half of the 20th century, there were many women (designers, managers, and owners) that had a direct influence on the teddy bear industry. This, at a time, when in Britain women over thirty had just been given the right to vote (in 1918). While the careful work and dexterity of women had always been of great value in both the textile and clothing industries, very few of them had ever reached the upper levels of management. In the years following World War I, there was a shortage of men; many of them had been killed or injured on the battlefield. With this, combined with the fact that the teddy bear industry was a relatively new one, there was an overall lack of tradition, thus giving women opportunities they had never had before.

Norah Wellings began her career at the Chad Valley toy company designing soft toys. She stayed in that same position from 1919 to 1926 and then left to set up her own factory in Wellington, Shropshire (England) called the Victoria Toy Works. Norah’s main focus was on cloth dolls but in her range of toys, she did include some teddy bears.

Norah Wellings’s teddy bears were very unique and a little out of the ordinary; they had more in common with the dolls she made than they did with traditional teddy’s – they often had no joints, were dressed, and had cloth bodies. Her brother was very heavily involved  in the business and when he died in 1959, Nora decided to retire.

E.M. Daniels was another women in the teddy bear business. While she had far less experience that Norah Wellings, she did work for six months with different established toymakers before opening her own company in 1914 – it was called Jungle Toys. While she started out with just two employees, by 1919, she had 15 people working for her and exported worldwide. Daniels’ teddy bear designs played on its cute looks, something that was evident in her Bingo Bear (a koala that was launched in 1928 when it was believed koala’s were part of the bear family).

In the 1930s, two women (whose names are unknown), set up a soft toy company called Pixie Toys. One of Norah Wellings’ former  employees, Elizabeth Simmonds, joined Pixie as a designer; it was her contributions which had a major effect on the way in which Pixie bears developed. They share quite a few characteristics of some other famous teddy’s made by British companies Merrythought and Farnell, including webbed-paw claws. Elizabeth Simmonds went on to buy Pixie Toys from the founders in the late 1930s. When the demand for toys fell both during and after World War I, in 1955, a takeover of the company took place. The new ownership only managed to last seven years and the company closed its doors in 1962.

When it comes to life sized stuffed animals, teddy bears can also be found ‘living’ in this world. While they don’t look much like the bears first created by the influential women of the teddy industry, that should make no difference in choosing one. Choosing any life size stuffed animal, for that matter, should be an easy decision.


Life Size Plush and Teddy Bears After The War

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 12:58 pm

With life size plush toys, a whole new way to play is immediately opened up for a child; no more pretending a lion or tiger is about to pounce in their make-believe jungle, but rather, they can have a soft toy that is almost as big as the real thing. With toy bears that are 7.5 feet in length or giraffes that are 4.5 feet in height, life size plush enables a child to bring the real animal to ‘life,’ all in the comfort of their own home.

The economy in Germany was nothing short of a disaster after the country’s defeat in the war in 1918. With the Treaty of Versailles in place as of June 28, 1919, the territory was given up to Poland, Belgium, France, and Czechoslovakia. Under the newly formed League of Nations, all  German colonies were given to the Allied Powers to administer which meant that the former German markets were much smaller than they were before. It was during this newly created environment that the once  lauded German teddy bear industry that had become lost to British manufacturers during the war, was able to bounce back.

The original Steiff teddy bears (which were the first teddy’s ever created) were made with mohair, but after the war it was very hard to come by in Germany. In order to resume the production of teddy bears, other types of materials had to be found. The creator of the Steiff company, Margarete Steiff decided to use a cellulose plush which was made from nettle fibres. This particular bear was called ‘Brennessel Bär,’ and it was quite uncomfortable to hold since the fibers it was made from were very coarse. Between 1919 and 1921, a total of 19,556 of these bears were produced and today they are highly valued by collectors because of their novelty value.

After the war, Steiff also returned to using boot-button eyes on their teddy bears but as soon as they could get glass eyes again (which is what their original bears’ eyes were made of), they were used universally. Most of the teddy’s from the early 1920s had clear glass eyes with backs that were painted brown and black pupils. The classic teddy bear Steiff was known for, stayed very close to its 1905 design – a bear that had long arms, large feet with narrow ankles, a humped back and a protruding muzzle. In 1921, Steiff introduced kapok stuffing and every bear from then on was lighter and fatter than before. In the same year, a conveyor belt system was introduced in the [Steiff] company which ultimately sped up production, but all the work on the soft toys was still done by hand (as it is today).

After the horror of the war, peoples spirits needed lifting and Steiff brilliantly read the international mood just right. In the 1920s, they introduced a variety of cheerful, lively bears that couldn’t help but bring a smile to the lips of all who owned them. Some of these teddy’s were dressed (including one called ‘Teddybu’ which was a classic bear that was white, golden, or dark brown) in a vest that was full of color. Other teddy bears had brightly colored fur – Teddy Rose – a pink, long-haired bear that was available in 1925.

One of Steiff’s most popular novelty bears was Teddy Clown which was introduced in 1926. It was available in 11 sizes that ranged from 9 inches to 45 inches and wore a distinguishable white Pierrot’s hat and ruff around its neck. Petsy was another teddy bear introduced around the same time as Teddy Clown and it stood out because of its blue eyes and pink-red embroidered nose. Petsy was ‘blessed’ with large ears and with the use of an internal wire frame, could be moved around into different positions. Ten different sizes of Petsy were released in addition to a glove puppet and some that were on a wheeled chassis.

Just imagine the endless hours of fun that could be had with a life size plush teddy bear. Any child would fall all over themselves with joy after setting their sights on something so marvellous. If you’re in the market for the next gift to give for a special occasion, look no further than life size plush.


Huge Plush Stuffed Animal and the Beginning of Soft Toys

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 12:53 pm

When you decide to purchase a huge plush stuffed animal, you’re making an investment in a toy that will be around for years if that’s what you choose. A huge plush stuffed animal is nothing short of unique in the world of soft toys and as is the case, it should always be treated as such.

While history has shown that dolls have been around at least since the time of the ancient Romans and Egyptians, it wasn’t until about 1900, when the idea for soft dolls came about.  Käthe Kruse had trained as an actress in Berlin before she married sculptor Max Kruse. So as to be in keeping with lives of contemporary children and many of the art movements of the time, she single- handedly modernized the dolls appearance. She developed her own doll after being less than enthusiastic about the types of frail, bisque dolls, her daughters were given to play with.

With Kruse’s understanding and experience with children along with her ability to improvise and appreciate modern sculpture, she started her first doll with towel that was knotted and filled with sand to make a body. A potato was used for the head and the features were etched in by using the charred end of a matchstick. With the use of images that could be seen of cherubs in Renaissance paintings in addition to inspiration from her seven children, Kruse went on to develop her dolls by using muslin as the casing for the body and filled them with sawdust and wood shavings. Her intention was to produce natural, simple looking dolls which would be very different from the lavish ones that were being produced by famous dollmakers; Kruse wanted to give her new dolls to her own children so they could have the sensation of holding a real baby.

Over time, Kruse was able to treat the muslin and form it in two parts – into the shapes of a face and back of the head. They were then filled with wadding when fastened together. Every dolls face was hand painted for a natural looking effect and a flexible wire base made up the body. Ultimately, Kruse’s process led to a brand new simplicity and dimension in doll design, with the end result being a soft and natural looking doll.

At the same time Kruse was perfecting her dolls, Germany’s Margarete Steiff was making soft animals and dolls. In 1894, she began making felt dolls by using cut-offs from a nearby factory. That eventually led to rubber hedgehogs that came in four sizes which had felt, human-like bodies. Ultimately, with the use of felt and muslin, the soft doll was born despite the fact that dolls were still being produced at the same time that were made of materials that were hard to the touch and not very durable.

Without a doubt, a huge plush stuffed animal is soft to the touch. So much so, in fact, it makes cuddling up to one all the more enjoyable. It’s difficult to imagine a huge plush stuffed animal being made out of anything but soft material, but like the first dolls before it, it’s always a possibility.


Giant Teddy Bears and the Grizzlies of Yellowstone

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 12:46 pm

Giant teddy bears are made for children of all ages. Even adults can enjoy a giant teddy bear or two. Whether they are used simply to decorate a room or act as a type of a security blanket for their owner, giant teddy bears can fulfill many needs.

Three decades ago, the grizzly bear had all but disappeared from Yellowstone National Park. The situation was so dire in fact, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed it on their threatened and endangered species list. Thanks to cooperation from both federal and state agencies, along with various individuals and conservation groups, as of 2005, the grizzly population is once again thriving in the park.

Sine the grizzly population in Yellowstone is doing so well, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed the species from the “threatened” list. However,  four other grizzly populations found living in the lower 48 states, haven’t been so lucky; their numbers have not yet recovered and as a result will remain protected under the Act.

In 1975, when the Yellowstone grizzlies were listed as threatened, there were between just 136 and 312 bears living at the time. Today, there are more than 500. Their listing as threatened was because of loss of habitat and high death rates due to ongoing conflicts with humans. In 1973, an interagency scientific study was put together and as a result, the grizzlies living in Yellowstone became the most intensely studied bears in the world. Then, in 1980,  the IBGC – Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee – was formed. It’s made up of the USDA Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the Washington Bureau of Land Management. The Canadian provinces provinces of British Columbia and Alberta are also involved. Private organizations along with some Universities also contributed to both the conservation and study. The IBGC’s mission was to manage death of the bears and their habitat in addition to working on building up public support for them. This new agency also was responsible for putting in place the right regulatory systems for the [bear] population.

The Yellowstone grizzly population has grown every year at a rate of 4 to 7 percent since the early 1990s. Since their listing as “threatened,” their range has also increased by 48 percent. In addition, grizzlies have been spotted by biologists some 60 miles from what had been previously thought to the outer limits of where they lived.

If you have a preference toward grizzlies, when purchasing giant teddy bears, look for the differences. Although this writer believes teddy plush and bear plush are not the same, they can be whatever you want them to be. The main differences between [wild] grizzlies and other bears is that they’re larger and heavier. To tell them apart from black bears, look no further than their much longer, curved claws, humped shoulders and a face that looks to be concave. Of course, with giant teddy bears, you won’t find those types of distinguishing features – just look for the brown coloring and you’re good to go.


Giant Stuffed Teddy Bear and Why Bears Rub Trees

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 12:34 pm

The giant stuffed teddy bear means different things to different people. For some it’s a best friend, there to cry on when things get tough. For others it’s a playmate that shares both great and small adventures. One thing is certain, however: a giant stuffed teddy bear is the perfect companion for anyone lucky enough to have one.

There have been many theories as to why bears rub trees. Some have thought that female bears do it when they are ready to mate. Others have been of the mind that bears simply rub trees to give themselves a good scratch so as to get rid of parasites. Or, it could be that they do it so sap from the tree will rub off on their fur thus acting as an insect repellent. It’s been very tough to test out these theories given bears live at such low densities and the rubbing behavior is quite a rare occurrence.

Over a two year period, Dr. Owen Nevin of the University of Cumbria, used four digital cameras containing infra-red strips to collect rubbing tree data on grizzly bears in British Columbia. Since he had already spent more than a decade logging rub trees already, he was able to set up the cameras opposite those same trees to see which bears were doing the rubbing and when. Along with the use of satellite telemetry equipment, Nevin was also able to track an individual bears’ movement.

Nevin said “the cameras show that adult male bears are the most likely to rub trees, and the satellite telemetry tells us that males move from valley to valley in large loops, marking trees as they go, while looking for breeding females.” Nevin is of the belief that adult male bears are marking trees so as to get to know each other better. In addition, he thinks by marking a familiar scent on a tree, it could go a long way to reducing the fighting that goes on between adult males. Given males bears can both injure significantly and/or kill each other, when one male smells the scent marks left on a tree by another male, it’s a message that he is in another’s territory thus it’s better to back away so a fight doesn’t ensue.

Males bears are known for sometimes killing a female’s cubs so as to free up an opportunity to mate with her. Through Nevin’s study, it suggests the possibility that young bears rub trees so as to fool males into not killing them. With the cameras that were set up to catch bears rubbing trees, cubs were caught on them being chased away from their mother by large males. Those same cubs went back to the tree the male had marked and rubbed up against themselves – two or three times. By doing this, it made the cubs smell like the big male, which in turn made the male bear believe he was smelling a relative; the likelihood of aggression towards a relative is less prevalent.

A giant stuffed teddy bear has no desire whatsoever to rub up against a tree. The fact that it may never even come into contact with a tree in its lifetime, gives it even less of a need to want to do so. A giant stuffed teddy bear has but one concern in its life: ensuring it’s the very best companion its owner will ever have.