Posted on Leave a comment

Unicorns and Dragons, Oh My! Why Kids Love Mystical Creatures

Stuffable Dragon

Some of the most popular types of stuffed toys are creatures that we wouldn’t find if we stopped by the zoo or hiked a trail into the forest.

Animals like dragons and unicorns invoke the creative receptors of our imaginations, and that’s why games, stuffed animals, and television shows based on these mystical creatures are currently trending with children.

The Unicorn

The unicorn is a magical creature with a single horn on his head that otherwise resembles a horse. Some say the relationship children have with unicorns is similar to the relationship between mankind and horses; each are different, but understand the other intuitively and can communicate in a special way. Unicorns are adventure-loving creatures that encourage kids to reach for the stars. Unicorns are often the stars of books, TV shows, and movies for the younger audience.

The unicorn craze represents the country’s love of all things magical, glittery and fun, as well as a nod towards the nostalgic. Perhaps we as adults are craving a bit of that childhood magic that the unicorn represented all those years ago. For our kids now, a unicorn toy can bring them joy and a little taste of magic.

The Dragon

Dragons have a bit of a darker connotation, but the interest—or, obsession—is undeniable. While many dragons we might immediately think of are mean or violent creatures, Chinese culture has a different take. Most Chinese dragons that are featured in folklore and history were benevolent creatures, sometimes with divine origins. Despite their frightening appearance, they were creatures of good.

The friendly dragon is a staple of our pop culture; just take a look at the search results that come up when you type in “How to Train your Dragon;” which was one of the top-grossing animated films of 2010.

In many kids’ movies and books, dragons are curious, brave and full of life lessons and good values, even though they’re not real. A plush dragon toy can encourage your child to be fearless in the face of whatever it is that scares them.

What’s life without a little make believe? Here at The Zoo Factory, we think all kids deserve a magical and imaginative childhood; help to create it for them with a mystical plush toy from our factory.

Posted on Leave a comment

A Heartwarming Story for the Holidays

Girl with Stuffed Bear

Everyone loves a feel-good redemption story, especially around the holidays. For one little girl, love conquered all as her teddy bear flew first-class to be reunited with her this past month.

A Heartwarming Story for the Holidays

As four year-old Summer was traveling back to Orkney, Scotland through the Edinburgh airport, she mistakenly left behind her favorite pal, a stuffed little bear. Summer did not realize her friend was missing until it was too late; her plane had already taken off, and the little girl was in a panic.

The incident left Summer’s mother Donna heartbroken, but instead of slipping into a hopeless wallow, she became active in the search for her daughter’s best friend. Donna took to social media, hoping someone in one of the many Orkney-based social media groups she posted in would notice her plea.

And someone did. A Login Air stewardess named Kirsty responded to the plea. She called for her co-workers at the airport to search all cabins. It was later discovered that the poor teddy was dropped off in a lost and found. The bear was flown over 200 miles home, and the girl, once reunited with her beloved pal, was beyond ecstatic.

It should be noted that the teddy had a safe and enjoyable return trip home; crew members posed in photographs with the little girl’s best friend in the cockpit, making the flight memorable for both the crew and the airplane’s passengers.

Stories like these are what the holidays are all about, as true civilians rise to the occasion in order to carry out a good deed. If a teddy bear means the world to one little girl, think of how many hearts will be warmed by a charitable donation of teddies! If you’re thinking about donating toys this holiday season, look no further than The Zoo Factory, where your altruism is our gifting pleasure!

Posted on Leave a comment

Tips on Cleaning Teddy Bears

Teddy Bear on a Clothesline

If you haven’t yet cleaned the teddy bear that your child sleeps with on a night basis, you’re not alone. Washing stuffed animals can be a hassle and many children don’t want to part with their teddy, period.

The Zoo Factory some several suggestions on how you can clean your child’s teddy bear to ensure that they remain fresh and loveable for years.

Check the Tag

Many stuffed animals are machine-washable (including ours) but you should always check a stuffed animal’s tag for washing instructions. If it doesn’t indicate washing instructions, you can usually get away with a cold wash on a delicate cycle or soaking it in cold water with detergent.

Use a Garment Bag

 

A garment bag typically protects a teddy’s plushness, making sure that it doesn’t get harmed in the washing machine. This can often allow you to wash it with other items, but we suggest washing teddy alone in order to be sage! If you don’t have a garment bag, you can use a pillow case that zips closed as an alternate.

 

Allow a Natural Dry

 

The dryer can be a little hard on teddy’s fur, instead, place teddy somewhere comfortable (preferably outside) to air dry. Make sure the teddy is completely dry before you returning it your child. A teddy that gets soaked might be damp on inside which can result in a build-up of bacteria. If you have a hair dryer, use that to speed the drying process and to ensure the inside of the bear gets dried too.

 

Consider a Spot Clean

 

If teddy has a tendency to stick his foot in spaghetti sauce or toothpaste, most of these stains can be easily spot cleaned. Use a damp cloth along with a blotting method to remove stains and spots. If water isn’t doing the job, use a tiny drop of detergent and use a clean damp cloth to remove the detergent from the toy.

 

Looking for another stuffed animal to add to the family? Make your own stuffed animal with Stuffable Animal Kits from The Zoo Factory. With dozens of fun, soft animals to choose from, your child can pick out his or her new favorite friend and toy. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Tips on Hosting a Teddy Bear Tea Party

Child Party IdeasThere are few things in the world as beautiful as the imagination of a child. If your child is eager to imagine, embrace it!

A great way to encourage imaginative play, which can come with various benefits, is to help your child throw a teddy bear tea party.

Think As a Child

In order to start preparing for a teddy bear tea party, it is important to get into the mind of your child. Allow your child to inspire you. Sit down with your child and help them brainstorm party ideas. Make sure you listen to them, consider which ideas you can truly make happen for them. For example, if they want to serve chicken fingers, embrace it!

Maybe they want a party complete with fancy dresses and top hats, or a more casual tea party with pajamas and a few favorite books. Don’t forget to invite a few favorite teddy bears to the brainstorming session; after all, the party is for them!

Do the Work Together

Consider letting your child “host” their teddy bear tea party which will give them an opportunity prepare for something. Take a trip to your favorite store to choose some affordable decorations. Use markers and papers at home to create several invitations. Let your child help you prepare a simple cookie recipe and assign them the job of “head taste tester.”

Before the party begins, let your child go get ready for their party as you take care of the final touches.

Be Sure to Celebrate

Don’t be afraid to let yourself go and join in on the fun. Once you and your child have prepared the party, it’s time to sit down with their favorite teddy bear friends and take it all in. Watch them imagine and simply follow their lead. Most of all, don’t forget to capture a few photos of what will certainly be a priceless memory. Free yourself up to completely dive into your child’s world and enjoy, you’ll be glad you did.

Hoping to expand the guest list? Visit The Zoo Factory for all different kinds of animals eager to come to the next tea party!

Posted on Leave a comment

Importance of Donating Stuffed Animals

Donation TipsMany children grow up with an abundance of stuffed animals, and all of them are their very best friends. Children acquire them from relatives, grandparents, holidays, festivals, carnivals, and more. However, many children that live in poverty don’t receive the large number of stuffed animals that others do, missing out on the benefits that come with having a stuffed friend to love.

Consider talking to your children about donating old stuffed animals, or stuffed animals that they don’t play with to children in need.

Donate to a Shelter

If you have a local shelter that struggling families can access, consider donating stuffed animals there. As hard as it is to accept, there are children that spend a lot of their childhood living out of local shelters. A simple stuffed animal can bring them comfort and joy during a difficult time and provide them with company when they feel alone.

Donate to Charities

If you’re not sure which local charities might accept your gently used stuffed animals, look for services like Donation Town. This website will match you with charities in your area based on your zip code and the items you want to donate. Many charities including Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and Hope Services are likely interested in your stuffed animal donations to give them to a child in need.

Things to Keep in Mind

After a time of crisis, like right after a natural disaster, donation centers are often looking for necessities. However, if families have lost everything, they might be grateful for a stuffed animal that can serve as a comfort to their child. Don’t hesitate to reach out to local charities and see what types of items that they might benefit from. Always wash stuffed animals before you donate them.

Looking to create a brand new teddy bear or stuffed animal for your child or for a child in need? Make your own stuffed animal with Stuffable Animal Kits from The Zoo Factory, LLC.

Posted on 4 Comments

The History of Raikes Bears

Woodworker Carving a Piece of Wood

If you’re a fan of teddy bears and their rich history, you’ve probably heard of the Raikes Bear. This is one of the most historical teddy bears of all times, especially known for the unique features it possesses.

Raikes Bears are well-known for their carved, wooden faces. While they were extremely popular many years ago, they are now pretty hard to come by.

Robert Raikes who was the creator of the Raikes Bear was well-traveled according to ThoughtCo. Raikes was born in California and lived all over the United States. He also lived in England, and after joining the military, lived in various parts of Southeast Asia.

Raikes had a passion for carving, which resulted in the famous Raikes Bear. His earliest carvings consisted of wooden sculptures that ranged from furniture to carousel horses. In the 1970s, Raikes was asked to produce dolls. As a result, the first version of the Raikes Bears, which had a carved wooden face and cloth bodies filled with sawdust, hit the market.

In the next few years, Raikes perfected his aesthetic and his teddy bears started to become very popular. In the 1980s, Raikes created the first Raikes Bear that most people are familiar with now.

After selling the bears for several years, Raikes sold the licensing rights to a company called Applause. After a couple of successful years, Raikes reclaimed the rights to the unique bears, hoping to perfect them and bring a limited number to the market. With that, their value increased immensely because only a few bears were available at one time and they were being crafted by Raikes himself.

Raikes Bears are now available in second hand shops and specialty gift stores, but they certainly come at cost. If you have one of the originals, it could now be worth hundreds.

The Zoo Factory has dozens of fun, soft animals to choose from, your child can pick out his or her new favorite friend and toy.

Posted on Leave a comment

Teddy Bears Benefit Children Visiting the Doctor

Does your child typically behave poorly while visiting the doctor? Do they often sob in the waiting room, disregard the toys provided, and cling to you walking towards an examination room?Teddy Bears Benefit Children Visiting the Doctor

They aren’t alone. Most children have anxieties and fears about visiting the doctor’s office. The waiting rooms can often feel tense and ominous and although the rooms are often decorated to be appealing to children, the cartoon animals rarely distract them from the instruments on the table.

Whether children are visiting for a routine checkup or are getting a procedure done, lots of kids feel stressed out while at the doctor’s, as many adults do too. However, it is important that your child does not grow up to be afraid of the doctor. Parents must consider how they might be able to change their child’s attitude about doctor, and the University of Nebraska Center College of Nursing has a few ideas.

The college recently partnered with the local zoo to hold a teddy bear check-up day: kids brought their stuffed animals down to the zoo where they were able to help medical professionals give the teddy a check-up. The medical professionals checked the ears, eyes, reflexes, and stomachs of the bears, and the kids were able to watch the exam happen.

Children at the event were encouraged to interact with the medical professionals and communicate any health issues their teddies may have been having lately such as upset stomachs and ear aches.

The event was designed to make children more comfortable with the prospect of a physical examination by a non-parent: in a comfortable environment, at the zoo, they take on the role of caretaker so that they can become familiar with the process of having a check-up.

Hoping to create a teddy bear that the child in your life will love? Head over to the Zoo Factory.

Posted on Leave a comment

Highlighting Antique Teddy Bears

Here at The Zoo Factory, we love teddy bears. We also love learning and reading about rare, antique teddy bears. We recently found an article distributed by Highlighting Antique Teddy BearsAntique Trader highlighting some incredible vintage teddy bears. These bears have contributed to the history of the teddy bear brand and paved the way for teddy bears as we know them today.

Antique Trader explained that teddy bears likely originated well before President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, although many people believe they were invented because of him.

However, there is information that could support the existence of teddy bears as early as the 1800’s.

Rod Bear

Steiff (located in Germany) is often credited with creating the first ever teddy bear in 1902. The oldest Steiff bear, which can only be found today in museums and private collections, was known as the “Rod Bear.” The rod had internal iron rods that held the stuffing in place. Some of these special bears also had a button inside of their ear that had an elephant symbol on it. These bears now sell for $10,000 to $30,000 today.

“Doll” Size Bears

In 1907, Steiff sold about one million teddy bears on the Atlantic City boardwalk. The company created a smaller version of the “Rod Bear” that was 10 inches long. The bear was intended for little boys that had sisters who loved to play with dolls. The bear allowed boys to play with their sisters using small teddy bears instead of dolls. This bear, along with its concept, became extremely popular. They now sell today for about $500 per inch so the bigger the bear, the bigger the price tag.

Talking Bear

In 1912, Heinrich Mueller started his own business. He had previously worked at a toy company before deciding to branch out on his own. In 1920, he introduced the first “talking” bear. His “Schuco Yes-No” teddy bear had a mechanism that shook the bear’s head up or down. By tugging the bear’s tail, the person holding the bear could make him say “”yes” or say “no.” This bear was especially popular in schools, and librarians loved to use them in order to tell stories.

If you’re inspired to start building your own collection of priceless teddy bears, visit The Zoo Factory today.

Posted on Leave a comment

What the Color of Your Teddy Bear Means

A teddy bear can symbolize a variety of things such as love, loWhat the Color of Your Teddy Bear Means yalty, faith, growth, and happiness. A teddy bear can serve as a “get well card” or a heartfelt romantic gesture. Teddy bears come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and believe it not, the color of a teddy bear typically has a specific meaning associated with it.

Although we’d encourage you to simply pick the teddy bear simply you like the most, it’s fun to know what the color might mean:

Green

Shades of green often symbolize things such as growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green represents a very strong emotional connection and is perfect for an expectant mother or someone that you have built a strong relationship with that you are hoping to develop into something more.

Red

A red teddy bear is a bold declaration of love, and if you want to make a statement about how much you love someone, a red bear is a sweet way to do so! The color red is representative of passion, desire, and never-ending love: a red teddy bear does a great job of showcasing that.

Brown

We absolutely adore a brown teddy bear. A brown teddy bear is the “go-to” classic teddy bear color which represents stability, support, and protection. If you just want to simply show someone that you care about them or provide a sweet source of comfort to a little one, a brown teddy bear is guaranteed to make someone smile.

Orange

An orange teddy bear is extremely unique and vibrant, and it stands out against most other bears. The color orange typically indicates happiness and enthusiasm. If your goal is to make someone smile, an orange teddy bear will give them instant energy and joy.

White

The color white is typically symbolic of peace, purity, innocence and good spirits. For someone that is seeking a new beginning, a white teddy bear is ideal. However, a white teddy bear is rumored to indicate that a relationship is just a friendship and nothing more, and usually does not indicate a romantic gesture.

Hoping to get someone special the perfect teddy bear? Visit The Zoo Factory for a variety of animals, outfits, and extras.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Importance of Teddy Bears to Police Officers

When most adults think of police officers, we think of strong, brave men and women who spend their days and nights protecting us and maintaining the law.The Importance of Teddy Bears to Police Officers

And in the eyes of our children police officers are the individuals that can provide you with help in any situation.

Whether a child gets separated from their mother at the park or is in the back seat of their parent’s minivan during a fender bender, it is almost always a police officer who is there to console them and make sure they are ok.

In situations like these, the tools that brave officer uses are rather different than the ones they carry on a day-to-day basis, with one of the most important ones being a teddy bear.

According to Brunswick Police Captain Angela Smith, “When a child is caught up in a tragic situation, a teddy bear can distract and calm them,” which is why the Brunswick Police Department and so many others across the country keep teddy bears and other stuffed animal on hand to help comfort children in the midst of frightening situations.

This January, the Brunswick Police Department was lucky enough to receive the generous gift of 250 teddy bears; each packed neatly in its own gift bag.

Donated by local resident Doris Carter and the insurance firm she represents, this gift will go far in helping both local children and officers.

We at The Zoo Factory are incredibly touched by this sweet story, and thankful for all the brave men and women driving through their town with a teddy bear tucked in the trunk of their police car, ready for a child in need!