Back in the 1950s—1953, to be exact—a silly, wistful song became a huge novelty hit. Sung by a 10-year-old named Gayla Peevey, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” captured the imagination of disc jockeys, jukebox managers, and the record-buying public. It also fueled the desires of enterprising zookeepers and animal custodians. The zoological society of Oklahoma City used that ditty as a launchpad for raising revenue to buy a hippo for their facility. Urging kids to donate nickels, dimes, quarters, and even a dollar (which was a lot in 1953), the Oklahoma City zoo managers actually got their Christmas wish, too, and put the collected funds toward bringing Mathilda the Nile hippopotamus to their enclosure! The purchased pachyderm became an instant celebrity, and her likeness popped up everywhere around town. Critters in the zoo have that ability to become superstars and VIBs (very important beasts).
Animals have always played a huge role in Judi Paul’s life. The creative soul behind Luxembears, Paul has always worn her love of furry, four-footed friends on her sleeve. She is an unabashed fan of dogs, bunnies, bears (of course), goats, lambs, and pretty much every other critter that can be converted into a soft-art surrogate. A gal who will bravely swim with a dolphin, or let a tiger nestle in her lap, Judi Paul adores wildlife in its many incarnations. So, it should come as no surprise that the multifaceted bear artist has decided to transform troll dolls into cute, unexpected woodland animals and fantasy creatures. She’s taking a doll that normally equals homely and goofy, and converting it into cute, heartwarming, and downright darling!
Most teddy bear collectors are social — they love to admire members of each other’s “hugs,” chat with fellow fans and favorite artists, and generally socializing with like-minded folks. But spread out across the world as they are, many arctophiles tend to “hibernate” — staying in their own cozy, private dens and participating in their collecting hobby via social media posts and emails. But there’s even more fun and camaraderie awaiting collectors who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and attend a show.