The Zoo Factory

  • Stuffed Animals as Playmates for Babies and Toddlers

    As infants, we enter the world with no knowledge of it, and a few of the first things we grow attached to are our mothers, fathers, and in many cases, the stuffed animals that are presented to us on our birthdays in the hospital. We form bonds with these people and things almost instantaneously, and they shape our perceptions of the world as we wield these tools for learning and interacting.

    One of the greatest gifts we can give a newborn baby or toddler is a stuffed animal, and here’s why.

    Educational Tools for Teaching Emotion and Expression  Stuffed Animals as Playmates for Babies and Toddlers

    When you gift an infant a stuffed animal, you may not know it, but you are teaching them about the world. Stuffed animals can be used to classify different animals, such as reptiles and aquatic creatures. Not only do these toys introduce your baby or toddler to the animal kingdom, but they can also help them process and understand human emotion and sensory details such as texture and color.

    What to look for in your Baby's First Stuffed Animal

    When choosing your baby’s first stuffed animal, you will want to keep a few things in mind. Try to avoid animals with long fur or removable parts, as babies can easily choke on these. Also keep in mind that if the act is sentimental to you, you may want to opt for a stuffed animal that your toddler can hold onto once they are of preschool age. At this age, your child is beginning to develop more of an active imagination, and will most likely want to interact with their stuffed animal more, even simulating real-life scenarios and mimicking emotions.

    At the Zoo Factory, we encourage imaginative play, whether you’re 3, 15, or 67! We're never too young or too old to connect with our inner child.

    Enjoy our April promotional deal: Get a free pair of sunglasses with each 16’’ animal ordered today!

  • The Evolution of Stuffed Animals

    At the Zoo Factory, it’s no surprise that we love stuffed animals. We think they’re great for people of all ages as a safe, healthy, and fun toy that everyone can enjoy. And clearly, we’re not alone: stuffed animals have been loved by people for centuries.

    Let’s take a trip in time to see where stuffed animals came from, and how people came to love them in the first place.

    The Early Stuffed Animal The Evolution of Stuffed Animals

    Did you know that civilizations around the world have been making some form of a stuffed animal since the beginning of recorded history? Actually, it was the Romans in as early as 300 BC who are first credited with creating the rag doll, which were made with fabric scraps and filled with straw. These were mostly enjoyed by poorer children, who were unable to afford the pricier toys of the day.

    The Modern Stuffed Animal

    There are really two instances where the stuffed animals that we know came about. The first is the stuffed elephant created by Margarete Steiff in 1880, who first produced the toy based on a pattern she read in a magazine. She eventually started manufacturing thousands of these elephants, and Steiff’s company became one of the most popular in the world.

    The other is the most famous: the world-famous “Teddy Bear.” In 1902, toymaker Morris Michtom saw a cartoon in the Washington Post about how President “Teddy” Roosevelt had spared the life of a bear cub when out hunting one day. The story inspired him to make a toy replica of the bear cub, and he ended up calling it a “teddy bear.” Of course, Michtom’s toy shot to international fame, and Ideal Toy Company, Michtom’s company, soon was the biggest toy manufacturer in the country.

    Of course, stuffed animals have gone on to take a number of different forms, and appear in popular culture all over the world. But that history lends itself to their original creativity, and beloved comfort.

    At the Zoo Factory, we pride ourselves on continuing that history with the best selection of stuffed animals out there. If you have any questions about our selection, contact us today!

  • Ways to Relieve Stress on National Stress Awareness Day

    We all know that life can be stressful. Balancing work or school, friends, family, and everything else is a daily chore; one which can sometimes feel overwhelming. But the key is learning to not let that stress control you. And that’s what National Stress Awareness Day, on April 16th, is all about: finding strategies to reduce that stress, and live a happier life.

    Here are a few healthy habits to practice and ideas to reduce stress on National Stress Awareness Day.

    Relieving Stress on National Stress Awareness Day

    Keep a Journal

    There are a number of benefits to keeping a daily journal of some sort—it’s great for time management, and helpful in strengthening your memory and your focus. But one benefit that often goes without mention is an alleviation of stress.  And it’s fun to keep a record of your experiences and memories, too!

    Meditate

    Meditation can come in many different forms, like yoga, sitting in silence, or leaving your phone in the other room while you concentrate. Whatever form it takes for you, a healthy meditation diet can do wonders to your stress levels. It lets you cleanse your mind of the day’s on-goings, and really focus on what’s in front of you.

    Keep a Garden

    This one is to all the folks who have any green space—be it a backyard, or park—close to them: get out there and garden! Planting flowers and taking care of a garden is one of the most proven strategies to reducing stress. Not only that, but it’s also great exercise. If you don’t have a backyard to plant in, get involved in your local community’s volunteer efforts.

    Get a Stuffed Animal

    To everyone here at The Zoo Factory, this one goes without saying. Having a stuffed animal by your side is a time-tested method of reducing stress, starting as early as childhood. Something about your favorite farm or jungle animal as a toy is just so comforting, and it’s no surprise that people of all ages love their stuffed animals.

    At The Zoo Factory, we offer a wide selection of high-quality stuffed animals in all shapes and sizes for adults, and customized models and stuff-your-own-animal party packages for kids as well. So contact us today!

  • Stuffed Farm Animals the Perfect Easter Basket Stuffers

    While the traditional Easter candy and other edible treats make great basket stuffers, a stuffed animal will become a lifelong friend to your children beyond the celebration of a once-a-year holiday.

    That’s why we want to encourage you to incorporate some stuffed farm animals into your child’s Easter basket this holiday!

    Froggy Favorites Basket Stuffed Farm Animals the Perfect Easter Basket Stuffers

    Children that love frogs will adore a frog-themed Easter basket full of treats and gifts centric to their favorite animal. Fill colorful plastic Easter eggs with frog trinkets like shiny necklaces with frog charms, soft green socks, and dangly key chains. Tie the basket together with this adorable plush frog that will have your child hopping around with excitement on Easter morning!

    Rainy Day Basket

    Spring ushers in rainy days, perfect for splashing around in puddles! Create a rainy day Easter basket full of fun activities perfect for a rainy day, such as arts and crafts, treasured movies, new rain boots, and an umbrella with a silly pattern. Your child will love celebrating “duck weather” with this fluffy yellow duck and a new yellow rain hat.

    Gardening Basket

    April showers eventually bring May flowers, but you have to plant them first! Gift your little gardener with their very own gardening Easter basket, complete with packets of seeds, shovels, a bright watering can, and some fun gardener’s gloves. Make gardening even more fun with a garden buddy. This precious brown rabbit will easily help make gardening a new favorite pastime for your little one.

    Soft and Sleepy Basket

    Young kids love soft things to help lull them to sleep, so filling an Easter basket with only the softest treasures is sure to please! Pack a basket with soft, fleece blankets and small fluffy slippers. Throw in some fun soft pajamas, a new bedtime book, and the perfect snuggle buddy lamb for the ultimate bedtime basket!

    Get a head start on your Easter shopping and head over to The Zoo Factory and select your child’s new best friend. Shipping is on sale for orders over $50 now through March 31st!

     

  • Teddy Bears Treat Alzheimer's and Childhood Trauma

    Teddy bears are used in children’s hospitals, senior living homes, and by psychologists and therapists as therapeutic tools which help our minds cope with life events and circumstances. This soft and cuddly animal makes for a great collector’s item, even a cute decoration, but being able to impact someone’s life for the better by gifting one is what we consider making the greatest use of a product.

    Here are a few ways in which teddy bears help treat Alzheimer's disease and childhood trauma in people.

    Heal Childhood Trauma Teddy Bears Treat Alzheimer's and Childhood Trauma

    If a person struggles with their worth, feels unlovable, or never good enough as an adult, it’s because something created these core beliefs very early. Childhood trauma is usually the culprit and when ignored, it festers into a broken adulthood.

    So how do you deal with childhood trauma in adulthood? You must first deal with the inner child, which a teddy bear is representative of. Adults can use their new companion to represent how they wanted to be treated as a child.

    This behavior of treating the teddy bear as an actual child should be on-going for changes to take effect. This may feel strange at first, but it helps the adult learn how to nurture others, feel less alone, and realize that self-care is important.

    Therapy for Alzheimer’s

    Sometimes the simplest things can bring pleasure to someone, like in the case of teddy bears for Alzheimer’s patients. The teddy bear gives them something to love and cherish and even take care of. It’s a great tool to help the patient connect with their world and feel a part of it.

    If the patient has trouble relating with other people, dramatic play with others and teddy bears is a great way to foster that connection and relate in a meaningful way. For some, the teddy bear alone is helpful and gives them something to “talk” to.

    Others like to care for the bear as they would a baby and give it a lot of affection. For some seniors, this fulfills their day and gives them a sense of responsibility.

    We hope the next time you look at a teddy bear, you’ll see that it can be used as more than just a child’s toy. At the Zoo Factory, we have a wide variety of 8 and 16 inch bears and other stuffed animals for bulk sale. We also have a selection of outfits that can enhance the therapy experience for you.

  • Hosting a Valentine’s Day Teddy Bear Party

    Each year as Valentine's Day rolls around, we tend to think of the ones that mean the most to us. This includes not only our spouses and romantic others, but our best friends, our teammates, our coworkers, and even our parents. It's a time to celebrate not only love, but the power of friendship and connection.

    Here are some ideas on how you can share the sentiment of Valentine's day with your friends, coworkers, and children this month.

    Hosting a Valentine's Day Teddy Bear Party

    Singles Night for the Ladies

    Many people take the opportunity to center Valentine’s Day around good friends and family instead of romantic partners. The holiday isn’t just for the traditional and mushy candle lit dinner crowd, so make the season your own by hosting a singles party at your home, apartment, or an outside venue for the people who matter. Celebrate everyone’s uniqueness by opting for a more laid-back color palette in your party decor, like tangerine table cloths or turquoise hanging paper lanterns and encourage people to bring a gift to exchange, even if they don’t know each other, like a fun and trendy sloth stuffed animal or a painted wine glass. You never know, you might end up playing match maker by the end of the night!

    Teddy Bear Party for Kids

    Most children enjoy Valentine’s Day because they get to exchange the ever-famous valentine! A lot of time and creativity goes into the shopping for such a sweet sentiment, which is then distributed to classmates and best friends. A stuffed animal party, however, involves a little more interaction and allows your class or neighborhood to get more hands-on in the gift-making process. Set up bags around your classroom with each child’s name and let them drop goodies, stuffed animals, and hand-made cards into each one! The best gifts are the ones we make ourselves, so let your child’s creativity blossom!

    Secret Admirer Gifts for the Office

    You can feel the love in the air everywhere during the month of February, including at the office. Some people aren’t always into the gift-giving part of the season, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brighten someone’s day by leaving them a special surprise at their desk. Is your boss going through a rough patch, or are you wishing to settle a work disagreement you had with a coworker not too long ago? When you give a gift anonymously, it takes the obligation off of the gift receiver and keeps them guessing with delight. Be sure to not leave anyone out, though; it only works if the whole office participates! That way, everybody receives a heartfelt morale boost.

    Don't forget: Beginning February 1st, you can claim 10% off all party kits and packages when you shop at The Zoo Factory for your Valentine’s Day party stash!

  • Teddy Bears in the Classroom Help Children

    Teddy bears are therapeutic tools that many educators incorporate in their classrooms for a number of beneficial reasons, such as promoting positive interaction and emotional growth during children’s formative years.

    Teddy Bears are Transitional Objects Teddy Bears in the Classroom Help Children

    Blankets, teddy bears, and other stuffed animals hold a special place in our hearts from the moment we are born into this world. These objects are self-chosen and given special value only because we choose to give them this significance.

    They mark the earliest phases of our development as humans and also help us cope with separation anxiety. A positive example of this is when a parent drops a child off at kindergarten. The child may feel stricken with anxiety and other uncomfortable emotion, and so to cope they will look for an object to hold onto. These objects are often abandoned once the adult picks the child up, but during the day, the object soothes them during their time of discomfort.

    Teddy Bears Encourage Healthy Interaction

    Teddy bears provide us with a clear understanding of how a child, as they grow, will interact with other people. A child who grows an attachment to a self-chosen object will more than likely be able to express emotion in a healthy way, and show that they can easily connect with others and maintain relationships. This is a necessary life skill that is vital to mental and emotional growth.

    Teddy Bears are Non-Disruptive

    If you are a teacher or work with younger children, then you realize that most objects of comfort are non-threatening to your lesson plan. Because of their calming effect, teddy bears help children concentrate by providing emotional and sensory support. They make children feel safe in uncertain situations and new environments, and even including an activity involving a stuffed animal or a teddy bear party in your lesson plan could contribute greatly to a healthy psyche.

    Surprise your classroom, youth group, or after-school club with a special friend this month at The Zoo Factory!

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

    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.

  • A Heartwarming Story for the Holidays

    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!

  • Tips on Cleaning Teddy Bears

    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. 

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