Okay, pop quiz! Put on your thinking cap. What is so special about March 3? Think deeply, and I’ll hum the “Jeopardy!” theme while you ruminate. All right? Thinking? Any clue? I’ll give you a very temporary reprieve. It’s not connected to your birthday — but if it is your birth date, celebrate in a big way — it’s not your work anniversary; it’s not your anniversary on Facebook. (Isn’t it so sweet how Mark Zuckerberg always manages to take time away from counting his billions of dollars to wish each and every one of us a happy social-media anniversary? So charming in a Big Brother kind of way.)
Well, I’ll keep you in suspense no longer. March 3 is official World Wildlife Day. It was decreed in 2013 by unanimous proclamation of the United Nations General Assembly. For 2016, the emphasis is on African and Asian elephants, and the theme is “The future of wildlife is in our hands.”
For many people, the chance to contemplate what the world would be like without its animal inhabitants is a sobering thought. They ignore the birds, the beasts, the bees, all year, and this is a chance to consider the fate of species outside of their own. For all of us arctophiles and plush-pal proponents, this is a special day, but honestly it is connected to us year-round. I can’t say that I am living the principles of World Wildlife Day 365 days a year, but I certainly do give to animal charities, support nature preserves, and subscribe to ecological newsletters on a weekly and monthly basis. And I am not alone.
Today’s teddy bear artists, collectors, enthusiasts, and industry colleagues are all aware of the precarious balance of nature. So many companies and artists create creatures that honor the endangered breeds of the world; they raise awareness of the vanishing species and often donate portions of their sales to charities and research.
One of the leading promoters of educating collectors about the plight of our four-legged counterparts is HANSA. This company is world-famous for its meticulous crafting of animals that look lifelike and majestic. Able to approximate tiny creatures (like butterflies) and large noble beasts (like lions or tigers or zebra), HANSA always makes sure that the story behind its chosen creature is shared with its collectors. They market their handiwork as “Toys That Teach,” and the accompanying hang tags describe the animals’ habitats, eating habits, gestation periods, care for their young, and general lifestyles. Known as “Portraits in Nature,” the HANSA critters are all that and more!
This year, American Girl, the well-known doll manufacturer, has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to create a line of plush animals to complement their “Girl of the Year Lea” doll. Lea is an aspiring photographer and a self-proclaimed eco warrior
Residing in Brazil for a family vacation, the young girl has her eyes opened to the wonders of the rainforest. American Girl is unveiling plush sea turtles, margays, and sloths that represent the new wildlife she encounters. Until December 31, American Girl pledges to donate $1 of each sale to the WWF, up until the $100,000 mark is reached.
Another wildlife charity that will benefit from stuffed-toy consumers is Jane Goodall’s Institute (JGI) and her Roots & Shoots outreach program for young, aspiring conservationists. The Queen’s Treasures, also primarily known for its doll work, is debuting a line of accessories that help turn
18-inch dolls into Jane Goodall. Each of the pieces of furniture, tools, and costuming approximate Goodall’s actual real-life experiences when she was a young researcher living in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Along with the doll-centric debuts, the Queen’s Treasures designers are also offering a pair of “faux fur” mama and baby chimps. When all the offerings are bought, you or your child (or both of you) can understand what Goodall had to endure to make her mark in the anthropology field.
The company also is featuring a child-size mother-and-baby backpack that is adorable beyond belief. You’ll wish that you were a foot smaller so you could strap that cuddling chimp duo onto your back! Really cute and so engaging. A portion of the revenue from all the Goodall products will be donated to JGI. The Queen’s Treasures is making sure that there will always be a group of women and men devoted to conserving our wildlife and preserving their terrain. For these true eco warriors, World Wildlife Day is every single day.