(Mirror Daily, United States) – The history of the teddy bear is a bit tangled and not as romantic as some think, but definitely a story that offers a few life lessons. And seeing how the black bear population of Louisiana is finally bouncing back and the ferocious, fluffy animals are now officially out of the threatened list, it may be that, more than a hundred years after it happened, the protagonist of the story may declare himself proud, if he were still alive.
A long time ago, at the beginning of the 20th century, a man was invited to join a hunt. And he did, but the outcome did not produce yet another bear carpet laid in front of a fire place. No, this is the history of the teddy bear, and its end leaves a kind of Chinese sauce taste in people’s mouth. It’s sweet, but it’s also pretty sour.
On the eve of a November day in 1902, the governor of Mississippi was preparing to leave his home in the small town of Smedes and attend a bear hunt with a distinguished guest. Theodore Roosevelt, aka the president of the United States, was joining the governor in what was considered a gentleman activity back in the day.
The two men, accompanied by numerous hunting dogs and skilled folks that lived of the meat they were able to track and kill in the forest, set out to kill a great black beast.
For you see, the black bears were not endangered in Roosevelt’s time. Or so the locals of the southern parts of the United States believed. The hibernating mammal was considered a nuisance, a threat to the wellbeing of the citizens and their farm animals.
The forest abounded with black bears (mainly because their habitat was being slowly, but surely destroyed and narrowed by humans, but they realized this after about 90 years) so it wasn’t long until the scouts found one and the chase started.
The president and the governor rode through the forest accompanied by their hunting mates and finally, after a few hours of healthy, blood rushing hunting, one of the men that was part of the party found it surrounded by dogs. The bear, exhausted from the chase and probably starving due to increasing human intervention in his habitat was thumped on the head and tied to a tree.
Protocol demanded that the president himself killed the beast. But upon arriving and seeing the terrible condition in which the bear presented himself, Roosevelt turned around and refused to take part in the spectacle. He only asked the men that accompanied him to end the poor animal’s suffering.
A cartoonist was there and immortalized the whole scene. Soon enough, toy stores were selling stuffed animals called teddy bears. The children’s toys reminded people of the kind-hearted man that ruled over the country.
Unfortunately, it took almost another century for them to realize that the black bear should have been protected and only when there were only 150 specimens remaining in the wild did the conservation efforts began.
But the history of the teddy bear ends in high spirits. As of now, the state of Louisiana officially removed the black bear from the list of threatened animals. But there is still a long way to go before the black bear will be out of the woods.
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