Exceptional Stuffed Animals and PuppetsPosted by Whole Earth | 02.15.2018
Do you remember your first, best friend? He or she may be lurking in all those photos of you as a toddler or a very young child. This was the friend who was always there, day or night, ready to give or receive a much needed hug. Perhaps your mother saved your friend, cleaned him up and put him away in your own personal archive of memories and lifetime achievements. Yes, we’re talking about your stuffed animal companion, the silent witness to your first years of life on the planet, sharer of challenges and joys, and an unfailing comfort in the face of an incomprehensible world. Many of us may not remember. We live in a culture that encourages the putting away of childish things. But is a stuffed animal really so childish?
We don’t think so. The comfort and support offered by a beloved stuffed animal to a small child can hardly be calculated. Heck, we know a few adults who, when circumstances require it, find comfort with their childhood Teddy Bears, so it’s not surprising that first responders sometimes carry stuffed animals to offer to traumatized children who come under their care.
You might be surprised to learn that stuffed animals as we know them are a relatively recent phenomenon. In the late nineteenth century, Margarete Stieff made her first stuffed toy, an Elephant. Created as a pincushion, it was “repurposed” as a toy by her children and Stieff was soon creating more animal toys and a very successful business.
The next milestone in the history of stuffed animal toys, came in 1902 when Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill an American Black Bear that had been tied up for him to shoot. The incident was transformed in a political cartoon that showed Roosevelt refusing to shoot a Bear cub. Morris Michtom, saw the cartoon and created “Teddy’s Bear”, a small plush Bear which he sat in his candy store window. Sales were immediate, and the Teddy Bear that we know and love today entered our world.
Today, the variety of stuffed animals and puppets available is truly astonishing. The toy Elephant and Teddy Bear have been joined by a host of wild animals from every continent, creatures from the deep blue sea, farm animals, pets, dinosaurs and even mythical creatures like the Unicorn and Dragons. They range in size from a tiny finger puppet Monarch Butterfly to a towering Giraffe (sorry, in store only)!
Do you know a child who has chosen their own totem animal? They can speak at length about the life history, prime habitat, and favorite foods of their favored animal. There may be tales of personal sightings or hopes for an expedition to see the creature in its home territory. Whether their totem animal is a Fennec Fox, a Snow Leopard, a Sloth or a Narwhal or some other wild creature, you’ll find the stuffed animal version at Whole Earth Provision Co.
Among the forest animals looking for a loving home are Raccoons, Rabbits, Opossum, Bobcats, Deer, Porcupines, Hedgehogs and a large flock of birds including Cardinals, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Bluebirds and Great Horned Owls, to name only a few. From the ocean world, you’ll find Sharks, Sawfish, Narwhals and Octopuses. Our more exotic creatures include Koalas, Arctic Foxes, Camels, Manatees, Armadillos, Bats and Potbelly Pigs, as well as Hippos, Zebras, Monkeys, Alligators and Snakes. We even have a T-Rex, a Stegosaurus, and a Brachiosaurus, and of course, Teddy Bears. Are you looking for large stuffed animals? We have an Elephant, a Sloth, a Wolf and a Penguin. You’ll find these critters online, and we have even more in our stores.
At Whole Earth, we have an amazing selection of animal puppets as well as stuffed animals. Puppet technology has come a long way from the old days of a head attached to a cloth tube with arms. These hand puppets are plush, full-bodied and have wonderful details that make them as lovable and huggable as a stuffed animal. Do you know a budding director, a child whose puppet theater productions deserve encouragement? Think of the casting possibilities with a puppet acting company ready to take on the storybook classics like Peter Rabbit or Snow White and the Seven Fabulous Forest Creatures. Original productions are also encouraged and offer a window into a child’s view of life, their hopes, dreams and fears.
Members of a potential animal puppet acting company include assorted Rabbits; Dragons, one with three heads, perfect for the role of Macbeth’s witches; a Funky Chicken that can dance; several Frogs vying for the chance to play a prince-in-waiting; a dapper turtle wearing a turtleneck sweater(!) who’s hoping to be cast as Jacques Cousteau in an underwater adventure featuring a Giant Clam (yes, we have a puppet Giant Clam), a Shark or two, and a baby Sea Otter. Other puppets just waiting for roles include a Gray Wolf, an Armadillo, various Sheep, Seals, Dogs and Cats.
For minor roles, may we suggest finger puppets, perfect for tiny hands. They would make great guests at a fancy dress ball - cue the Monarch Butterfly, the Scarlet Macaw and the Firefly who brings her own light to the occasion. Or if a Broadway chorus is required, the Cardinal, Bluebird and even the Spotted Owl would be happy to perform. And then there are the Flying Pigs. What roles could they play?
Stuffed animals and animal puppets can help free a child’s imagination, and they can offer companionship and comfort in the face of uncertainty. If you’re looking for an exceptional stuffed animal toy for a child, you’ll find all these creatures in our online store and even more at our eight stores here in Texas.
Are you wondering how to store a collection of these wonderful toys or what to do should they need cleaning? Check out our posts on the care and housing of beloved toy animal companions and puppets.
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