Bärenfang – Bear Trap Honey Liquor

baren_fang_black_forestBears like honey, and they like it even more when it’s turned into a liquor aperitif called Bärenfang, which means “bear trap” in German. Everyone knows how well bears can hold their liquor. Tell me, how many times have you ever seen a bear weaving down the road behind the wheel of a car? I bet you never have. So, there’s the proof. Bears might drink, they just don’t drive.

Bärenfang is a honey flavored liqueur with a clear Vodka base made in Germany and sometimes called Bärenjäger (Bear Hunter) in English speaking countries. The beverage with generally an alcohol content between 60 to 90 proof  was first developed in East Prussia  in the middle ages of the 15th century for the kings pleasure. The first commercial brand was produced in the Prussian capital city of Königsberg, in eastern Germany, with the continuity of that original marque now produced by the Teucke & Koenig company in the town of Steinhagen, Germany. The Teucke & Koenig brand of Bärenjäger featured a series of labels featuring a fur trapper trapping a bear. The honey for this brand is actually gathered in Mexico. Bärenfang can be homemade with common recipes or in small local brands. Bärenfang can be taken straight over ice, added to tea or a hot toddy, or perhaps poured over ice cream.

Black Forest Bärenfang is especially good, because lots of bears live in the Black Forest and if you’re going to set a trap for bear with honey booze, it better be good!

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Bears on Great Big Ships

 

 Toy Bears serve as mascots for some of the World’s Greatest Ships

queen_mary_captain_bear.jpgGenerally, as a rule, bears don’t sail on ships. It’s not that bears don’t like ships, but bears would usually prefer to play in the water, instead of floating over it. Polar bears like ice bergs in the cold North Pole to float on and catch fish. And mountain Grizzly bears sometime float on logs, but big ships with passengers, baggage, and rolling decks are not generally where you will find bears. But some ships seem very much to like stuffed and furry toy bears as mascots. I would like to say it’s because bears look very smart dressed in uniforms, as ship captains and stewards, but it’s probably more that kids seem to like bears on ships, because it’s unusual – and because they look good in uniforms.

We just thought we’d mention it because in our travels, we’ve come across bear mascots on some of the world’s largest ships of history so we thought we’d introduce a few of them

RMS Queen Mary

queen_mary_bears_cupThe RMS Queen Mary is one of the great luxury ocean liners, now a hotel and permanently docked at the harbor in Long Beach California. It was the world’s largest passenger ship since the Titanic for many years after she was launched by the Cunard Line in 1936. The Queen Mary was the premier liner for crossing the Atlantic, carrying royalty like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and movie stars like Clark Gable, Fred Astair, and Elizabeth Taylor. But three years later World War II started and the Queen Mary was turned into a trip carrier. The Queen Mary has a few bears as mascots and people greeters. Two life sized bears and Captain and Steward stand outside the entrance door to gift shop and smaller toy sized bears are available inside to take home.

Titanic

titanic_bear_bearbuddysThe most famous ship from history and the largest ever built up to the time of its maiden and final fateful voyage. The Titanic sailed from Southampton, England on April 10, 1912, and after picking up passengers in Cherbourg, France, then a last stop for mostly third class immigrants in Cobh Ireland the Titanic sailed across the North Atlantic towards New York, but on the night of April 14, 1912, hit an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the ocean on the 15th of April 1912.

The Titanic was built in the Northern Ireland city of Belfast where there are now a num ber of exhibits to the great ship and her tragic ending. The Titanic Experience is the main exhibit with virtual recreations of the ship and the story around her building, launching and sinking. Bear mascots for the Titanic are presented in uniforms of the ship’s captain and crew. There’s also more Titanic stuff at the nearby Transport Museum. But don’t worry, no bear lives were lost on that Night to Remember in 1912.

SS Great Britain

great_britain_lifejacket_bearThe engineering visionary Isambard Kingdom Brunel, voted in at least one poll as the second greatest Englishman behind Winston Churchill, was responsible for some of Great Britain’s most lasting advances in transportation, building of the Great Western Railway from London to Bristol and his great steamships built in the Bristol dockyards which advanced ocean travel beyond the days of sail into the industrial age.

When it was launched in 1843, the SS Great Britain was the largest ship in the world and the first propeller driven ocean going iron-hulled passenger steam ship. Brunel combined sail and steam power to drive the ship faster and more reliably than the paddle wheels ships up to that time, beginning the great age of oceanic passenger travel. The sleek ship made voyages from Bristol to New York and then later to San Francisco, a route previously ruled by the Clipper sailing ship.

The SS Great Britain exhibit at the revitalized Bristol Docks  presents a unique look at both the lifestyle and engineering of a great ocean-going steamer of the early Victorian era. Smaller stuffed toy bears in ships  livery are available in the exhibit’s gift shop, along with the history of the ship, games and other SS Great Britain theme items.

Bears Rule the Waves!

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Bay Tree Hotel Bears Burford

Bay Tree Hotel Burford BearsHere are some bear friends who live at a hotel in the pretty Cotswold area of Gloucestershire England. The hotel is the Bay Tree Hotel in the town of Burford a luxury country inn style of hotel. Maybe Burford sounds like it might be a place for bears, but they are not known to be indigenous, at least for several hundreds of years. But if you stay at the cozy luxury little hotel in the medieval town, while visiting the historic sights like the old church and the stone bridge over the Windrush river where the town really gets its name, you can take home one of the Bay Tree Hotel Bears. Or just invite one to dinner in the excellent yummy restaurant.

Bay Tree Hotel BurfordThe town of Burford got really popular when they used to make a lot of clothes from wool in the old days when Queen Elizabeth (the first one) was the lady with the crown. Now it’s kind of quiet in Burford, since the railroad passed by, so mostly tourists like to stop there. It’s right on the highway between London and Gloucester. There are quaint shops and pubs in town, and other sights of Oxfordshire like Blenheim Palace are not far away.

The Bay Tree Hotel has walls of Cotswold limestone with colorful vines of purple wisteria blooms, inside wood beam rafters and wood paneled public rooms, with original stone fireplaces and antiques, stepping through the oak doorway is like stepping into another time. The main building was first built in 1565 as the country house of a government minister to Queen Liz, but later became an inn to the coaches which used to come through town in the Victorian days. But they have very comfortable beds. Bay Tree Hotel Burford

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Panda Triplets Born in China Zoo

panda_triplets_chinaThree new baby Giant Pandas entered the world on July 29, 2014 at a zoo in the southern China city of Guangzhou. It’s extremely rare for triplet panda cubs and these are the result of the country’s artificial breeding program to increase the endangered bear population. The announcement was delayed until the zoo people were sure all three of the panda triplets would survive. This was according to the China News Service, and we all know that China official news always tells the truth. There are only about 1,600 Giant Pandas living in the wild, while almost 300 live in captivity, mostly in China because of their breeding programs. The panda mom named Ju Xio is doing well, too. She was impregnated with a donation from a daddy Panda living at the Guangzhou Zoo. They didn’t say whether he needed a magazine.

Photographs and a video were released to show the three almost hairless pink baby bears sleeping, rolling, and standing briefly in their incubator with handlers. The only sound on the video is some music, but why the Chinese had Panda’s exhibited to an Irish jig is a question for some investigation.


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Smokey Bear Has a Big Birthday!

Bear Buddys with Smokey a happy BirthdaySmokey The Bear is having a birthday! He turns 70 years old on Saturday August 9, 2014. He’s even older than Major Ursus! And still keeps going. His original name was just Smokey Bear, but the “The” got added when some people wrote a song about him. In 1952, Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins wrote a tune celebrating the popular bear and added “the” for rhythm to work, and it sort of stuck.

The Smokey Bear we recognize today was created by an advertising agency to remind people of the dangers of forest fires. With his signature yellow rangers hat and shovel and bare hairy bear chest and blue pants he pointed with assurance and said “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”. But he’s recently updated his line to “wildfires” to be more inclusive, because fires can burn more than just trees.

smokey_bear_birthday_campaignSmokey Bear never talks a lot in his commercial message, sort of the strong silent bear type, but when the camera is off he’s pretty chatty. “It turns out he does have a voice and it’s very clever,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. Still, Smokey’s message is sometimes best relayed through silence. A series of new YouTube videos have been created for 70th birthday show Smokey giving silent bear hugs (#SmokeyBearHug) to campers who properly build and extinguish camp fires and safely dispose of used barbeque charcoal, among other things. There is even a Facebook App called “Smokey and Me” where fans can upload a photo of themselves next to Smokey and then save, print, or share it with friends.

smokey_bear_true_storyThe original Smokey was actually a real bear cub saved by some Forest Fire Fighters. But in 1944, when America was at war and there was a fear that some enemies could start forest fires at home while firefighters were off being soldiers, the character of Smokey Bear and his preventing fires message was really meant to be on the lookout of saboteurs. But after the war the U.S. Forest Service thought he could warn people about being careless and more national parks were being created. He got really popular in 1952 when he went on television and Smokey Bear is now part of the longest running public service campaign in U.S. history. According to research figures, our friend Smokey  is known by 96 percent of American adult people and is only slightly less famous than Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus. His creation was a collaboration of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

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Bill Murray Disney’s New Baloo Bear

baloo_bear_dancing

1967 Disney Baloo

The Disney company has announced that Bill Murray is going to be the voice of Baloo the Bear in the new animated version of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”. The Jungle Book was originally not a book at all, but a series of stories published in a magazine from 1893 to 1894 about a boy brought up in the jungle of India where Kipling was born. The boy’s name was Mowgli and ee learns the lessons of life from the animals. Baloo the Bear and a panther named Bagheera teach him the law of the jungle so he won’t get eaten by Shere Khan the Tiger.

Disney made a very popular musical animated version of the story in the 1960s and is doing it again. Bill Murray is joining other cast members already announces including Sir Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Christopher Walken as King Louie the ape, Idria Elba as Sherte Khan and Scarlett Johansson as Kaa. This new version will combine live action with animation and will be in 3D so the tiger can jump right out at you.

The Baloo bear character was a favorite from the earlier Walt Disney movie, especially from the song he sang “The Bare Necessities” which was sung by the actor playing him Phil Harris. Thee is no report whether Bill Murray will sing in the new one. We sort of hope not…

India Sloth BearThe Baloo Bear in the original stories was described as a “sleepy brown bear” and is thought by some to actually be a Sloth Bear which lives in India and goes back to prehistoric times. They’re a little different than regular Asian Black Bears. They have lanky bodies and long shaggy hair. They’re nocturnal and do their hunting at night. There are no reports that they sing at all, but they sometimes have been taught to dance and trained as performing pets.

The Disney remake is supposed to be in theaters in October of 2015 and is racing against another movie about the Jungle Book from Warner Bros. called “Jungle Book: Origins” which sounds like it’s more about Rudyard Kipling and I’m sure won’t have anybody singing. The Jungle Book because it was written over a hundred and twenty years ago is actually in the public domain, so maybe you could make your own version and get it in theaters next week. That’s the law of the jungle!

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Paddington Bear Trail Through London!

Paddington Movie PosterA new movie is coming out and fifty life-sized Paddington Bear statues will be placed throughout London, the capital of jolly old England in museums, parks, landmarks and stores,  designed by a whole bunch of artists, designers, and even some famous people who really like bears, making for a trail of colorful inspired bears with distinctly Paddington flavor.

The Paddington Trail will follow the tracks of the erstwhile ursine traveler’s favorite places in London to celebrate the art, culture and innovation of England’s capital city  in advance of the opening of the new Paddington Bear movie produced by the Harry Potter people which will open in United Kingdom theaters on November 28, 2014 and opening in US cinemas in late-December 2014, just in time inspire all that Christmas Season shopping for cute bears. Check out Hamleys.

In author Michael Bond’s original stories, the young stowaway bear in the red hat finds himself alone in a big and unfamiliar city. Adopted by the Brown family, he finds a warm welcome and a safe place to stay and sets out to discover more about his new hometown.

Visitors to London will be able to follow in the furry footsteps of the world’s favorite Peruvian bear explorer as The Paddington Trail is launched across some of London’s key cultural and landmark hotspots starting in October of 2014.  The tourism office of London will have a dedicated section for visitors to download the trail map of bear steps, share pictures they take with their new colorful bear friends, and tell the story of each statue, who made it and where it can be found. VisitLondon

The Paddington Trail is also going to support a charity the NSPCC Action Medical Research for Children. PADDINGTON™ and PADDINGTON BEAR™ are © Paddington and Company Ltd/Studio Canal S.A – So There!

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Polar Bear Twins Take Over Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo

Polar Bear Cub Twins at Hellabronn Zoo

Baby bears grow up and other baby bears come along, that’s the cycle of life in zoo marketing. With snowy white fur, polar bear cubs seem to catch the most attention in pictures and videoos, attracting visitors to zoos. The latest cute bear cubs to make their appearance come in a pair. Twins born to polar bear mom, Giovanna, at the Hellabrunn Tierpark zoo near Munich in southern Germany.

The cub twins were born on December 9, 2013, with color spy cameras watching their every moment. Forget the NSA, even bears get no privacy! The two little balls of snow have passed a medical examination and are reported in the best of health. They are now making regular appearances with mom in the arctic style family bear home.

The little cubs bumble with their paws on the artificial landscape of the Hellabrunner Eisbären Haus (that’s polar bear home in German) getting acquainted with the cool wet surfaces meant to seem like a natural habitat. The twins are a boy and a girl and are still separated from their dad, Yoghi, whom may get to cuddle with his kids when they get a little bigger, but will stay in his own enclosure until zoo keepers see how he and momma Gionvanna get along. It’s always the children who suffer. Hellabrunn Zoo

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George Washington Bear at Valley Forge

BearBuddys with Valley Forge George Washington Bear

Here we are with our new friend George Washington Bear (he’s really a Valley Forge bear, but if he wants to be the father or our bear country, why not?). Valley Forge is the place in Pennsylvania where the Continental Army under General George Washington took up winter quarters in 1777-1778 during the Revolutionary War, when the colonists were fighting for independence against the British. The place got its name from an iron forge on Valley Creek about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The war had been going on for almost 2 years when General Washington made camp for the winter after the Battle of White Marsh. It was one of the harshest winters and with low supplies, almost 2,000 American continental soldiers died from starvation, disease and exposure to the harsh cold snow. (Bears have thick fur coats and sleep through the winter, but soldiers have to march a lot and get frozen toes.) The thick forest woods of the plateau of Mt Joy and the Schuylkill River made the spot easily defensible against attack by the British and the wood of the forest could be cut to build wood huts. Beginning on December 19, 1777, twelve thousand hungry and ill-equipped soldiers staggered in the valley after a long march. Only about one third of them had shoes, and left bloody footprints in the cold snowy ground from the marching.

The troops didn’t have enough supplies of meat and bread, and ate mostly something called “firecake,” flour and water cooked in a pot. Sometimes they would get “pepper hot soup,” a thin broth from boiled tripe with black pepper seasoning. (Bears will eat pretty much anything, but don’t like black pepper much.) When there was enough, they got some fresh baked bread. The snow wasn’t deep enough to collect for drinking water as it would melt in mud or freeze into ice. General Washington despaired in one of his gloomy letters “that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place – this Army must inevitably starve, dissolve, or disperse.” Animals didn’t do so good either, hundreds of horses died.

But the good thing that happened at Valley Forge is that a German soldier, a Prussian nobleman named Baron Friedrich Von Steuben volunteered to show the men how to march and fight like trained regiments. The British had hired German soldiers called “Hessians” (because they came mostly from Hesse in middle Germany) to fight for them. They were said to be mercenaries, because in Europe, soldiering was a profession and the rich rulers made money by hiring out their armies to fight for others, while the American continental soldiers were mostly amateurs and volunteers. But there were many German people who had already come to America before the war and were fighting for independence, too. Von Steuban was a Prussian drill master – and nobody knows how to march like Prussians! He drilled the soldiers and improved their battlefield formations and fighting techniques so they could better face the trained British soldiers. After Valley Forge the Americans recaptured Philadelphia and stopped the British from retaking New York, and eventually won the war a year later, so bears can live in peace and freedom and get to vote!

Valley Forge is now a National Park which you can visit and learn all about it. And here are some videos you can watch about the history of Valley Forge.

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Uhura Bear – Nichelle Nichols & The BearBuddys

Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek is Newest BearBuddys Fan

Here’s us with our newest friend, Nichelle Nichols. She’s a famous actress from the TV
show and movies of “Star Trek”, where she played a character called Lt. Uhura,
(uhura means “peace” in Swahili, bet you didn’t know that!) She was the
Communications Officer on the Starship Enterprise, along with her friends and
shipmates Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Sulu and Checkov, and Scotty, who was always complaining his motors couldn’t take any more, but they always did. (Just shows what you can do if you really put your mind to it.)

We met Miss Nichols over the holidays and she was really nice. She kind of smooched
with Major Ursus a bit. (I guess because they’re closer in age now, but she really liked Leander, too. Everybody likes Leander!). Nichelle Nichols is a hero to a lot of people because she was the first African-American woman to be on television in a position of authority and not a maid or servant to someone. She gave a lot of people the idea that they could be just like everyone else in the world, except she had to go into space to do it. She was also the first girl with dark skin to smooch a boy with white skin on TV, which
upset a lot of people, then, but now pretty much everybody does it. Now people
get upset when boys smooch boys on TV. They’ll get over it, but I don’t think it will catch on.

Most people know Nichelle for her time in pretend space, but maybe you didn’t know that she played a real important part in real space exploration science. Way back in 1977 (before Leander was born), the NASA Space Shuttle program was getting started. The first Space Shuttle was named “Enterprise”, because a bunch of fans of the TV show wrote in. It was going to be named “The Constitution” after the first ship in the American navy (you can still visit it in Boston harbor), but the NASA people listen to letters. Especially when people write them to congress. But NASA had a problem. They didn’t have enough women and minorities going to space. In the 1960s there were 13 women who wanted to be astronauts, but that didn’t work out. NASA came to Ms. Nichols because she was famous and asked if she would help them recruit girls and minorities to join the space astronaut program. Because of the way America had been before, a lot of people from other races and backgrounds didn’t think they were welcome in space, but the first women and black astronauts and Asian and Hispanic astronauts went into space because Nichelle Nichols they should. She said to them if someone like her could go where no-one like her had gone before, they could too. Did you know she sings, too!

The BearBuddys know about space because of their movie Bears in Space and the Goldilocks Planet. Have you seen it?

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