The Zoo Factory

  • It Pays to Know the Worth of Your Stuffed Animals

    When people have stuffed animals that may be worth money, they don’t necessarily want their little ones playing with them, undressing or dressing them or brushing their fur or hair. While this may seem like fun to the child, it could be doing irrevocable harm to the plush toy and in the world of antiquities, the better the item’s condition, usually the more valuable it is.

    A woman in Western New York recently reported a case in which her aunt had given the woman’s six year-old daughter an old teddy bear that belonged to the aunt in her youth. Kept in storage and still in good condition, the young child was eager to play with the plush toy and make it a part of her own collection.

    The mother relished watching her daughter play with the bear and was happy to tell her aunt that the bear had become a part of the child’s regular play things. But all that changed when the child’s grandmother, the sister of the aunt, saw the child playing with the stuffed bear and panicked. She recognized the bear as an antique, a Steiff to be exact. The German stuffed animal company, founded in 1880, is known for its production of high-quality stuffed animals.

    The grandmother was able to identify the Steiff bear based on the silver colored metal button on the left ear of the bear. It featured raised script that read “Steiff.” Knowing that she had quite the find in her hands, the grandmother did her best to pacify the child with the promise of the purchase of a new stuffed animal. She took her find to an appraiser who estimated the bear’s worth to be somewhere in the thousands of dollars.

    In the end, the grandmother was able to procure the stuffed animal and keep it in safe place, where it could continue to appreciate without sustaining any damage. She didn’t want to sell the toy out from under the child to whom the bear was given, but she also wanted to keep it nice until the child was grown and able to understand the true value of the bear.

    It’s not every day you find a treasure such as a Steiff stuffed animal. But if it ever happens, have it appraised by a professional antiques appraiser, specifically one who deals with antique toys, dolls and stuffed animals. This way, you’ll know whether or not your child’s play things could bring more money than you imagined.

  • Proper storage can protect your stuffed animals

    If you’ve ever had to put away your stuffed animals, for any reason, you know how difficult it can be, both for sentimental reasons and for matters pertaining to practicality. When it’s time to shelve stuffed animals, find a solution that works for you and for the longevity of the stuffed animals. Here’s how to get it done:

    Figure out how you want to store your stuffed animals. You may find that you want to display the collection, without having to put them away all together. Try using shelves or freestanding cases to display the stuffed animals that mean the most to you. If they are something that is not played with often, they will get dusty and musty. To protect them, try using a glass-front shelving system that can protect them while still allowing them to be seen.

    Perhaps you don’t mind not seeing the stuffed animals but still want them protected while in storage. You can purchase an easy to open box that will allow you or your child easy access to the stuffed animals without having to cut open brown cardboard boxes or large trash bags (which can be confused for garbage if not properly labeled). If the plastic toy bin is going to be kept inside a bedroom, be sure it’s not too tall or heavy so that it doesn’t injure someone if it tips over.

    Sometimes people choose to store stuffies in mesh bags such as the ones used for laundry. These are great for keeping stuffed animals off the floor and can be hooked on the back of a door or strung up from corner to corner in a room allowing for easy access. If they are not being kept in an attic, basement or other storage area, small stuffed animals can fit nicely into hanging shoe organizers. They peek out of pockets and can be a fun way for little ones to view and access their plush friends.

    Another fun option is to string stuffies from a clothesline in a child’s room. By attaching lighter stuffed animals with clothespins, they can be taken down and put back up with relative ease. This method really helps keep floors tidy.

    For long-term storage, consider keeping stuffed animals in plastic storage bins with locking or snapping lids. They can be found in a range of sizes and shapes and multiple bins can be stacked. Again, make sure if they are stacked that little ones cannot climb or tip them.

    By wrapping each stuffed animal in acid-free tissue paper or acid-free boxes, you can preserve the life of the stuffed animals when they are not on display or in use. To prevent matted fur, try using more than one box to put the stuffed animals in. They should spring back to life and be ready for play or decoration when the time is right again!

  • Yesterday’s friends: Why seniors love stuffed animals

    The very idea of a stuffed animal connotes something that is soft, cuddly and comforting. For the very young, these animals provide a level of security that can only be matched by a loving human counterpart. But what about senior citizens and those in elder care who may have lost the people in their lives who provided that same level of comfort and security? Can stuffed animals fill the void that a loving human once occupied?

    We know a lot about the healing and comforting powers of stuffed animals. Which is why millions of people across the world buy them for, give them as gifts, or donate them, to the elderly and to those who can truly benefit from them.

    More and more senior citizens are entering senior living facilities and nursing homes throughout the country. Many of them have lost spouses or loved ones. Some of them have no family to speak of, while others do not have routine family and friend visitors. Life can be lonely and challenging. When the elderly begin to feel that they have lost everything they once had, it can be very difficult to lift spirits.

    That’s why stuffed animals for seniors are so important. These plush creatures are fully capable of putting smiles back on seniors’ faces, providing comfort, and allowing for endless hugging and nurturing. Stuffed animals remind the elderly of their own youth, or their children and grandchildren. Both elderly men and women can remember a time when they were younger and had a few stuffed animals or dolls that provided hours of entertainment. They remember buying or making them for their own children and watching them learn and grow with their own stuffies and dolls.

    If you’ve ever been inside a nursing home you’ve probably heard the wailing of a elderly person who is not necessarily void of attention – they get medical attention and routine care - but often lack the physical presence of someone or something comforting. For those who live in skilled nursing facilities or require personal assistance, often times a stuffed animal becomes a source of entertainment or serve as something familiar within the room or at bedside. A stuffed animal or doll with a cuddly face and body can truly give people a feeling of comfort. Just one squeeze of a stuffy and all your troubles seem to melt away.

    For those who may have a hoard of gently used stuffed animals that they would like to unload, consider donating them to a senior living facility or nursing home. There are surely plenty of senior residents who would love to snuggle with them, talk to them, comfort and be comforted by them. Giving a second life to a stuffed animal while brightening the day of an elderly person is truly a remarkable gift.

  • Behind the scenes of stuffed animal play

    You see it every day…a child playing make-believe with their stuffed animals. These animals become accessories to the imaginations of children. From dolls and animals in dress up attire to plush animals acting out scenes like those in fantasy or science fiction. Depending on the age of the child, these stuffed animals might be involved in elaborate plot lines or just sitting down for light conversation at high tea. What this means for the child is companionship, development and the ability to feel in control. To the stuffed animal, it means having a purpose!

     

    Elephant stuffed animalThis kind of play is known as dramatic play and it refers to the made up games that children enjoy. When adults witness it, they see a child acting cute while playing with stuffed animals and other non-living friends. But to a child involved in dramatic playing, the world that is created fosters their abilities to learn and develop. This is an imaginary world that supports intellectual growth and builds social and verbal skills.

     

    It may seem like just fun and games in a make-believe environment, but dramatic play with stuffed animals is rooted in psychology.

     

    During this type of play, children are acting out scenes from their own day-to-day lives, albeit, they are not entirely cognizant of that. They may be acting out, or reliving the things they've witnessed or participated in with their stuffed animals. That’s why some toddlers and young children carry their dolls and stuffed animals around like babies and why they mimic the coos that parents often do if there is a younger sibling at home.

     

    Sea animal stuffed animalSometimes young ones will scold a stuffed animal or doll as if it were a living thing if the child remembers being scolded or told “no” about something. The latter type of mimicking behavior should not be alarming unless accompanied by other negative behaviors or if it is the only type of dramatic play the child tends to participate in.

     

    Otherwise, watching a child act out real life scenes with a stuffed animal can be a great way to see how they are developing and how their minds are expanding. It is the first step towards gaining more in-depth play and learning how to form thoughts and relationships.

     

    So, the next time you see a little one sitting down for tea with a stuffed animal or solving a crime with a beloved plush friend, take a moment to listen in; you’ll discover that there is a lot more going on!

  • What makes a unique stuffed animal collection?

    Chances are if you child has one stuffed animal, he or she has plenty more. Lots of times, this collection of animals can grow out of control, hanging on to every stuffed animal they’ve acquired over the years.

    Some collections are clearly better than others. And if you child wants to collect every stuffed animal he or she can get her hands on, maybe they need learn that quality is better than quantity, and having 25 monkey stuffed animals might not make your collection stand out too much.

    Stuffed Animal Teddy BearHere are some ways to have your child’s stuffed animal collection unique.

    More isn’t necessarily better – The only thing unique about having a stuffed animal collection of over 100 is the size. What do you do with all of them? How many are the same stuffed animal, or at least the same animal? Having a variety of stuffed animals will make your collection stand out more. Try and get rid of animals you have duplicates of or ones that are the same animal.

    Movie and TV Characters – In every collection, it’s always a good idea to have a stuffed animal of your child’s favorite Disney movie character or TV character. Adding a Simba or Sponge Bob Square Pants to the collection will show a pop culture side to your child and even how they become a fan of a movie or character at an early age. Plus, some of these stuffed animals can turn into collectables or even valuables as time goes on.

    Stuffed animal kittyShow your variety – They don’t have to be just all stuffed animals. Beanie Babies, Care Bears and other unique designed or different style of stuffed animals, like The Zoo Factory’s personal stuffed animals, will certainly add a creative wrinkle that even parents can appreciate. This goes along with animals too. Unless you’re dealing with just valuable Steiff Bears, show your variety by having, lions, snakes, horses, movie characters and even the stuffable animals you create to make your collection stand out more than having 25 stuffed animal dogs.

    These are three ways to help improve or make your collection more unique.

  • Teddy Bear toss brings smile, fans

    There are plenty of stuffed animal drives throughout the country, but there not be a better one than this. The Calgary Hitman of the Western Hockey League, sponsors an annual act that's been part of their history for the past 18 seasons. It's called the Teddy Bear Toss.

    Back in December, hosting the Kootenay Ice, the Hitmen's first goal would yield a shower of teddy bears like it did every year. But every year it always seems to come as a surprise to the players.

    Whale Stuffed AnimalWhen the first goal of the game was scored by Hitmen winger Pavlo Padakin, the crowd went nuts, throwing a total of 21,453 stuffed bears onto the ice. Rather than just shrills and cheers, the fans started rifling their plush friends that encased the players in rainbows of soft colors.

    Padakin didn't expect the experience, which was his first, to be so overwhelming. As quoted in the Calgary Herald, Padakin said "I didn't think it was like this.....not emotional."

    With 16,912 fans in attendance and over 21,000 stuffed bears coloring the ice, you can only imagine the excitement from all who were there to see. Hitmen player Greg Chase reflected on the atmosphere by stating, "The nerves are flying at the start of the game — everyone wants to score that goal. We wanted to score in front of our fans and let those teddy bears come down." (Calgary Herald).

    Aside from the thrill of tossing a teddy onto the ice, imagine how the recipients felt? The Teddy Bear Toss has been a charity mission to bring smiles to those staying at the Alberta Children's Hospital. Since the tradition began 18 years ago, the Hitmen team has donated an astounding 213,000 bears.

    You'll find there to be quite a few stuffed animal drives across the country, but this one is certainly unique. For minor league teams, this idea is great for drawing and building a community of fans. But furthermore, it's not only a great marketing tool, it benefits children too. If your organization wants to sponsor an event to brighten someone else's day, browse through our many collections of cuddly stuffed animals today.

     

  • Sports Stuffed Animals

    Molding your little one into a sports fan takes some work, especially when it comes to cheering for a specific team. Families don their children in clothing of their favorite teams, and even take them to a game when they're young to get them prepared for a life of being a fan for the rest of their lives.

    Another way to get the little one prepared is to get them a stuffed animal to hold on to that resembles a teams mascot or nickname.You have to be creative and imaginative, since these aren't official sports stuffed animals, but the psychological factors in having your child hold on to something that represents your team could pay off in the long run.

    Think of it like this, if your children's favorite stuffed animal is an Eagle, maybe he'll want to become a Philadelphia Eagles fan! Or if you want your child to grow up being an Eagles fan, get him an Eagle stuffed animal.

    So with the NFL Draft taking place this weekend, lets go through The Zoo Factory's stuffed animals you can give to your children to mold them into an NFL fan!

    Broncos Stuffed Animal

     

    Denver Broncos -- One of the most storied franchises in the entire league that  also boasts possibly the best quarterback to ever live in Peyton Manning, this horse replicates that of the Broncos logo, which is a horse.

     

     

    Eagles Stuffed Animal

     

    Philadelphia Eagles -- If your son or daughter's favorite bird is an Eagle, chances are they could very well grow up to be an Eagles fan. The Philadelphia Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, but maybe your little fan's spirit can push them over the top.

     

     

    Jaguars Stuffed Animal

     

    Jacksonville Jaguars -- This cool looking stuffed animal could represent your children's love for the Jaguars. The Jaguars haven't been the best team in the league of late, but with a new ownership, your little one could be the first one on the bandwagon.

     

    Bengals Stuffed Animal

     

     

    Cincinnati Bengals -- What kid wouldn't want to grow up a Bengals fan when dragging this guy around town. If you name him "Cinci," your child may be well on his way to becoming a big time Bengals fan.

     

     

    Lions Stuffed Animal

     

    Detroit Lions -- Not only does a lion represent the king of the jungle, it could show your children's love for the Detroit Lions. Couldn't you see your child squeezing this sports stuffed animal when the Lions are making a last minute attempt to win the game? Or could that be you?!

     

     

     

    Buffalo Stuffed Animal

     

    Buffalo Bills -- Just like this cute and lovable stuffed animal, the Buffalo Bills are one of the more lovable teams in the NFL. They're sometimes lovable for the wrong reasons, because they tend to lose more games than they win, but their fans are passionate and love their fans through thick and thin. Just a warning, you might need to hold this tight during close games!

     

     

    Dolphins Stuffed Animal

     

     

    Miami Dolphins -- This is a great gift for any young Dolphins fan. This stuffed animal not only looks exactly like Miami's logo, but it's cute like the Dolphins new logo too.

     

     

     

    Bears Stuffed Animals

     

    Chicago Bears -- This big bad Bear could represent your child's love for the Chicago Bears. The Bears are known for having a punishing defense, and there's not a better way in representing that than having this bear in your arms. If you want your child growing up to root for one of the oldest and most storied franchises in the NFL, this loveable sports stuffed animal is for you!

     

     

    Remember, these stuffed animals are not licensed NFL products, nor are they officially affiliated with any team, but with a little creativeness these stuffed animals could easily represent the love for their favorite team -- and it doesn't even have to be a football team. Browse our collection and see what stuffable animal could be the one to mold your child into a big sports fan today!

     

  • On Call: Playing doctor with your child’s stuffed animals

    You’ve watched your child squeeze that beloved stuffed animal in good times and in bad. In sickness and in health, through thick and thin, the bond between the two has never been broken. Figuratively speaking, of course. Because the real bonding – the stitches and seams are broken or weak – and, quite honestly, that stuffed animal has seen better days. But what’s a parent to do with a worn out best friend in need of serious repair? It would break your child’s heart to think of losing it.

    Tucan Sam But do not fear! Hope is not lost! With the right tools and a few swipes of the magic wand (needle and thread) you can restore that favorite stuffy and reunite child and best friend!

    Begin by inspecting the damaged part of the animal. Consider whether this is a simple fix you can do at home, or one that may require the help of a seamstress or other professional. There are fixes such as sewing a burst seam to those that require a bit more work, like reattaching a limb, or replacing a special feature such as a soft paw pad.

    Often times, even the most sewing challenged can master the art of simple stuffed animal repair. But, for those who cannot, there are repair shops, oft referred to as “stuffed animal hospitals” where a “sick or injured” stuffed animal can be restored, or “healed.”

    If you can do the repair work yourself, be sure to match appropriate thread colors, content and size. By using the right tools, you can replicate the original work, which will help maintain the integrity of the stuffed animal. Of course, to your child, just being able to squeeze the friend again might be all that matters, so to each their own when it comes to making repairs.

    Pig stuffed animalIf the animal has lost any stuffing while torn, be sure to replace it with a like fill. It will help the animal regain its original shape and can help keep the fabric in place and looking good. Even if no stuffing has been lost, if the well-loved stuffed animal is showing signs of stuffing shift, try and reposition it before you begin stitching or mending because you will have better access to the interior of the animal.

    So, go ahead and make those repairs to your child’s stuffed animals. They may not tell you directly how happy you have made them, but you will be able to see the satisfaction on the face of your child when they cuddle, nestle or play with that favorite stuffy again. And, you’ll take pride in the fact that you played a part in the mending of something that matters so greatly to someone else, similar to those who work in fields of medicine and the healing arts.

  • A Custom Stuffed Animal, is the Best Stuffed Animal

    Everyone has that special stuffed animal that’s made it through the years. Whether you’re new to the stuffed animal game, or a seasoned veteran, the new trend of being able to create, customize and personalize your own stuffed animal is very exciting. With stuffed animals often being a sign of comfort, going the extra mile and physically creating your closest friend can be a fulfilling and stress relieving activity for people of all ages.

    Stuffed animal accessoriesFor decades, the standard has been either receiving this special friend as a gift, or purchasing one from a store. While the bonds with these animals are always strong, sometimes it isn’t exactly what you wanted. With minor issues, such as size, texture, color or even breed of animal, these slight flaws often took some getting used to before a  bond could be formed. New advances in the stuffed animal industry have made it possible to create and customize the vision that was always in your head. The steps are pretty easy; you pick the breed of your animal and stuff it yourself. The animal is brought to life in your hands and is easily customizable. Shirts, pants, shoes, dresses, sunglasses, and bracelets are just a few of the many options available to really personalize your newest creation.

    Stuffed animal dogTo really pack that extra punch, most animals will come with accessories  birth certificate to be filled out by the creator, making the experience more than just stuffing an animal but also a personal journey to the perfect best friend. Other stuffed animal accessories like sound chips, or stuffed animal outfits also add an element to your animal, giving it a voice that can come pre-recorded or be recorded by yourself. Creating a stuffed animal has taken the love for stuffed animals to a new level.

  • The Zoo Factory Sound Chips

    Want to make an impression that will last as long as The Zoo Factory’s stuffable animals?

    Put in a customizable stuffed animal sound chip!

    You can choose from pre-recorded sound chips or one where you can record your own voice or even your baby's heartbeat.

    Choose from over 20 pre-recorded sounds, from a barking dog, an elephant, a mooing cow, a pig, kitty, or even the happy birthday and Old McDonald had a Farm song.

    Even better, buy a customizable sound clip so your own message can be played over and over by your  little loved one.

    We prefer it if you didn’t record “Clean your room!” But something fun like a nickname, or even your own customizable saying that makes your loved one laugh non-stop.

    The heartbeat one is great for babies or even puppies learning to live without their moms for the first time. That is as long as the puppy doesn't use it as a toy!

    These fun sound clips are incredibly reasonably priced too. The pre-recorded clips are just $2.50 and the customizable ones are $8.50

    At The Zoo Factory, make your stuffable animal custom inside and out!

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