Monthly Archives: April 2019

  • The Story Behind the Real Winnie the Pooh

    We all grew up on the tales of Christopher Robin and his beloved Winnie the Pooh, but did you know that Winnie the Pooh was based off of a real-life bear? Meet Winnie, the bear cub that joined a Canadian brigade and met Christopher Robin at the London Zoo.

    Winnipeg Bear

    Harry Colebourn was a veterinarian tending horses in the First World War. He was on his way to Quebec to join his fellow soldiers heading overseas when, while waiting for his train, he came across a young bear cub for sale. Buying the cub for a grand total of $20, Colebourn named it “Winnipeg Bear” after the town he grew up in—although most just called the cub “Winnie” for short. Winnie went with Colebourn to Quebec, and later to England where Colebourn was stationed.

    The Brigade’s Mascot

    Upon arrival in England, Winnie soon fell-in with the rest of Colebourn’s troop, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. She became the mascot for the brigade, and soldiers often played with her whenever they had downtime. However, when word came that the brigade was heading to France, Colebourn was ordered not to bring Winnie with them. As such, Colebourn loaned Winnie to the London Zoo.

    Winnie Meets Christopher Robin

    Winnie became a popular animal at the London Zoo. She was so tame that children would ride on her back and feed her sweets. This was where the young Christopher Robin and his father, A. A. Milne, first met Winnie. They soon became frequent visitors, and Robin named his own teddy bear after Winnie, combining it with the name of a friend’s pet swan, Pooh, to come up with the name Winnie the Pooh. Inspired, A. A. Milne would publish Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926, basing the character off of his son’s teddy bear.

    Teddy bears, and other stuffed animals, are wonderful sources of inspiration, both for you and your child. Get yours today at The Zoo Factory. We have plenty of stuffable animals for you to choose from!

  • The Travel Agency for Stuffed Animals

    When we travel, it’s a chance to see the world. That’s true for humans, but now, thanks to a Japanese travel company, it’s also true for our stuffed animals.

    How it started

    It all began with a handmade eel named Unagi. It belonged to Sonoe Azuma, eventual founder of Unagi Travel, the Japanese travel agency dedicated to stuffed animals. Azuma had Unagi ever since she was a little girl, and when she got older, she began taking Unagi with her on trips. She took photos and posted them to her blog which “made my friends smile and made me smile,” she said. “I thought it was a fun and creative way to share my daily life.”

    After a while, Azuma’s friends asked if they could bring Unagi with them on trips as well. And, just like Azuma, they took photos of Unagi enjoying the sights, sometimes having it pose beside famous landmarks. The trips made Azuma realize that the idea of sending our beloved stuffed animals on their own vacations could appeal to more people. So, in 2010, she started Unagi Travel.

    How it works

    After placing an order, you simply send your stuffed animal to Unagi Travel and they handle the rest. Once received, your stuffed animal friend will enjoy all the sights and events of Tokyo and Kamakura. They might attend a TED Talk, or maybe they’ll visit Historic Asakusa. Wherever they go, your stuffed animals are sure to have a fun time.

    A trip that’s instaworthy

    You don’t have to worry about being kept out-of-the-loop on your stuffed animal’s vacation. Unagi Travel posts photos of the stuffed animals every day on their social media accounts, showing them at different sites or attending different events, and allowing you to follow along on your stuffed animal’s adventure.

    Unagi Travel is a fun experience both for your stuffable friend, and for you and your child. So once you’ve received your new best friend from The Zoo Factory, why not send them on a trip? It’ll be a vacation of a life-time.

  • How the Teddy Bear Got Its Name

    We all love our favorite teddy bear, but why exactly do we call them ‘teddy bears’? And why did people start making them in the first place? Turns out, it’s all thanks to a certain U.S. President and a hunting trip gone wrong.

    Theodore Roosevelt’s Hunting Trip

    On November 14, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, went on a bear hunting trip near Onward, Mississippi. The trip didn’t go well. The group of hunters had spent three days in the wilderness tracking bears, only to come up empty. Finally, on the fourth day, Roosevelt’s hunting guide, Holt Collier, managed to track down an old, tired bear. Tying it to a tree, he went back to the President and encouraged him to shoot it. Finding this very unsportsmanlike, Roosevelt refused, and went home empty handed.

    A Political Cartoon and a Candy Shop

    News spread about the incident, prompting Clifford Berryman, a political cartoonist, to draw a cartoon satirizing Roosevelt in the Washington Post. Two candy shop owners, Morris and Rose Michtom, saw the cartoon and had an idea. Rose had been making and selling stuffed toys in their shop for years, but she had never made a stuffed bear. The cartoon inspired her, so Rose made two stuffed bears and put them in the store window. Morris even asked for Roosevelt’s permission to call them “teddy bears,” since the President was often called “Teddy” by friends. Roosevelt loved the idea, as did the public, and they became an instant hit.

    Over a hundred years later, teddy bears have become a staple of American culture, and no child should be without one. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of stuffable teddy bears to choose from, so take a look!

  • Check Out The Den of Marbletown Teddy Bear Museum

    Along the Hudson Valley sits an old, Victorian farmhouse filled with thousands of teddy bears. Turns out, it’s a museum dedicated to teddy bears and other childhood toys.

    From Victorian Farmhouse to Teddy Bear Museum

    The Den of Marbletown has transformed a Victorian farmhouse from the 1860’s into a unique tourist attraction. It houses over 5,000 Steiff teddy bears along with other staple childhood toys.  A historical house filled with old toys might sound a bit creepy, but luckily, owners Steve and Nan Ferri have done these fluffy friends justice.  Their museum is interactive, welcoming, and fun. Birthday parties, school field trips, and young families all enjoy the space to play, explore, and learn.

    Meals Fit for Papa Bear

    Papa Bear’s Kitchen and Mama Bear’s Lounge offer healthy and affordable meals that can be enjoyed in communal spaces.  Board games and a magical closet containing classic toys will accompany your meal, and in the summer time, blankets and picnic baskets are available to enjoy around the farm grounds or a soothing stream.

    A Place for Artists and Historians

    The museum itself is always refreshed with rotating collections and classics revived from the famous FAO Schwarz toy store. Local artists present gallery shows within the space, and other museums collaborate with this unique attraction to share their own rare bears.  Recently on load was the “the Holy Grail” of Steiff Collectors: the 1904 Rod Bear which features the first attempt at movable joints on a toy.

    Need a friend to accompany you on your trip to The Den of Marbletown? Look no further than The Zoo Factory. We have plenty of stuffable animals and dolls who will just love a trip to a teddy bear museum!

  • Why Your Child Should Bring a Stuffable Animal to Summer Camp

    Summer is the perfect time for your child to try out new hobbies, sports, and activities, and no place is better for that than a summer camp. But when your child leaves for the summer, make sure they bring along one of their furry friends, too. Here’s why:

    They help deal with homesickness

    Leaving home can be tough, especially for a young child. The moment you arrive at a summer camp your child may already want to go home, but a stuffable animal can help. By taking along one of their furry friends, they’ll be bringing a piece of home along with them, easing any homesickness they may feel.

    They can help with making friends

    A stuffed animal can help with building social and language skills, very important factors into making friends in a new place. They’re also great conversational starters. Other children may want to play with your child’s teddy, or have their own stuffed animals play with them. Before you know it, your child has made friends before the first day has even ended.

    They can join in on the fun

    From baseball practice to cooking classes, your child will encounter many new and interesting activities. Having a stuffable companion along will make those activities all the more enjoyable, and memorable. Plus, they can have their stuffable animal look the part by donning on a baseball uniform or chef’s outfit.

    Don’t have a stuffable animal for your child to bring along? The Zoo Factory has you covered. We have plenty of stuffable animals and stylish outfits for your child to choose from!

  • How to Serve Your Community with Stuffable Animals

    Our stuffable friends are always there to help us, and that includes helping out in the community. Many of the same benefits that a stuffable animal can have for our children can apply to families in need. Here are a few ways you and your child can help the community with stuffable animals.

    Take stuffable animals to your local police or fire station

    When police officers or firefighters respond to a situation, they often give stuffed animals to any children involved. After a traumatic event, a child is often in a lot of fear and pain, and a stuffable animal can help ease those emotions. To help, you can donate stuffable animals to your local police or fire station. You can also send them to Project Smile, a non-profit organization which donates stuffed animals, coloring books, and children’s books to police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics around the country.

    Donate them to your local animal shelter

    As much as kids can benefit from stuffable animals, so can pets. Dogs in particular love stuffable animals; they’re fun to play with and can ease anxiety. Just be sure to remove any buttons or zippers before you donate them.

    Get involved with a stuffed animal drive

    With the power of numbers, people can really make a difference. Local charities or schools often have charity drives, and they’ll donate what they’ve collected to children in need. That could range from local children living in poverty, to children in another country who have just survived a natural disaster.

    Would you like to give a stuffable animal to a child in need? The Zoo Factory can help. Check out our inventory to see how you can start making a difference.

  • How Teddy Bears Make Adults Behave Better

    Yes, you read that sentence right. People are well aware of the benefits teddy bears bring to kids, but did you know they can also help adults? They can relieve stress, treat Alzheimer’s, and now, thanks to a Harvard research team, they can even make us behave better simply by being in the same room.

    How They Did It

    Harvard researchers Sreedhari Desai and Francesca Gino separated a group of people into two halves—one half was in a room with children’s toys (like crayons and teddy bears), the other was not. Each group was then asked to play games where subjects could influence how much money they and other people had by whether they lied or not. Researchers found that subjects in the room with crayons and teddy bears were less likely to lie and cheat, and were overall more generous, than the subjects in the other room.

    Teddy Bears and Childlike Innocence

    So, what’s the connection? Researchers believed it was related to purity. According to Desai, “Child-related cues might unconsciously activate notions of goodness and drive us to get to a pure state and not want to pollute it.” And it makes sense. Most people are on their best behavior around children, trying to set a good example. Having a teddy bear by our side may not be the exact same as having a child by our side, but our brain connects the two, and as a result, we behave better.

    So, if you, or someone you know, could benefit from having a teddy bear in the room, check out our inventory or contact us for more information.

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