The Great Teddy Bear Hunt

A mass teddy bear hunt is under way around the world to help distract the millions of children locked down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stuffed toys are being placed in windows to give children a fun and safe activity while walking around their neighbourhood with parents.

The hunt is inspired by the children’s book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ written by the author Michael Rosen.

Teddies have been spotted around the world, including the UK, the US Australia and New Zealand whose Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has joined in, putting two bears in the window of her family house in Wellington.

Tanya Ha, a resident of Melbourne in Australia said she had been inspired to put cuddly toys in her window after hearing about other hunts around the world. Her displays change every day and feature humorous and educational notes aimed at adults, not just kids.

“I’ve always felt a sense of my local community, and being part of it,” Ms Ha said.

Her two children help with ideas for the displays and Ms Ha says working on them has helped to keep her mind occupied amid the angst of the pandemic.

“It’s just fun,” said Ms Ha, who works in science communications. “There’s a real buzz in sharing science and the delight in how things work around you.”

The teddy bear hunt is now a global pastime as millions upon millions enter self-isolation. The motto of the book – “We’re not scared” – has resonated for many.

Others have engaged in teddy bear graffiti and chalk drawings have also appeared in many inner-city centres.

People without teddy bears have painted or made them instead, and other creatures and children’s characters have appeared in windows too, including Kiwi birds, Shrek and Donkey, Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, mounted stag heads and a surprising number of inflatable sharks.

Jiavra Cohen is a student who is self-isolating with her family in Auckland, and every day she and her mother create a new scene on their porch, including elaborate picnics, and a day out fishing by the clear blue water (a repurposed blue duvet).

“Mum and I put up a new scene every day but the fishing scene is because it’s one of my dad’s favourite hobbies,” Cohen said. “Coming up with ideas is a good time-filler when I finish my uni work. Mum also enjoys conversing from the porch with our neighbours.”

Some communities are organising competitions for children to go on “Bear Hunts” either on foot or by car.  People are displaying 🧸 somewhere visible from the street or pavement, either stuffed or on paper and children are counting them!  One community said their child counted 140. It’s fun to round with a parent counting bears and getting exercise at the same time.