4 THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE TEDDY BEAR

I worked on this story for NPR last summer and it's one of my favorites. We interviewed writer Jon Mooallem about the origin story of the teddy bear and it's a darker tale than I realized. Listen here: http://www.npr.org/2014/08/15/338900449/why-do-we-care-about-some-animals-more-than-others
  1. 1.
    Teddy Roosevelt did spare the bear, but only for a moment.
    He didn't shoot the bear, but instead told his hunting guide to "put the bear out of its misery." So the guide slashed its stomach open. Not what you learn at the toy store!
  2. 2.
    Roosevelt actually ate the bear.
    They had roasted bear claws on the last day of their hunt. That wasn't in the political cartoon version of the story.
  3. 3.
    Toy makers tried to capitalize on the success of the teddy bear with a William Taft follow up.
    It was called the Billy Possum and it was a big flop. I mean, it was a stuffed animal version of a possum. Come on.
  4. 4.
    The teddy bear is the perfect example of the complicated relationship humans have with some animals.
    "Nature could only start to seem this pure and adorable because we didn't have to be afraid of it anymore. And you can see that cycle playing out again and again with all kinds of animals. It seems like we're always stuck between demonizing a species and wanting to wipe it out. And then when we get very close to doing that, empathizing with it as an underdog and wanting to show it compassion." - Jon Mooallem