Stuffed animal

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Ducksheep_stuffed_animal.jpg
A homemade stuffed animal of a ducksheep.
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Bunny.jpg
A stuffed animal of a bunny.

A stuffed animal describes a toy animal stuffed with straw, beans, cotton, and other similar materials. Some stuffed animals are very old - home made cloth dolls stuffed with straw go back to at least the 1830s, perhaps much older.

Stuffed animals in the past were frequently produced by stuffing the evacuated skins of hunted animals. The phrase is still sometimes used to refer to examples of Taxidermy. However, with modern technology it is now possible to produce them with synthetic materials. For this reason, a plush toy or plushie may be a more appropriate name for a modern synthetic stuffed animal.

The first commercial concern to create stuffed toys is apparently the Steiff company that was founded in 1880 in Germany. In some parts of Germany, stuffed animals are informally referred to in German as Steiftiere, which derives from the name of that company; however, this is largely unknown to casual German speakers today because steif also means stiff, which is also why the word lost the second f.

One of the most popular types of stuffed animal is the teddy bear. Another is the sock monkey.

A popular commercial brand of stuffed animals is Ty Beanie Babies.


History

It is known from tomb paintings in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian civilisations that stuffed animals existed in those societies for religious purposes, and undoubtedly for human play as well. Human psychology has very strong links with anthropomorphism, and so it is almost certain that most cultures and societies in human history have used stuffed toys in the form of popular animals for children's' entertainment.

In medieval Europe, stuffed animals were often used in mystery plays to represent Biblical animals, such as the serpent in the Garden of Eden and the lions in the Book of Daniel. During the Industrial Revolution in Europe from c.1750 onwards, the toy industry became a significant source of profits amongst the rapidly expanding and increasingly young populations of European nations. During the nineteenth century, the concept of the stuffed animal (known as a cuddly toy in Britain) as an entertainment product took off, with commercial enterprises such as the Steiff company being established to produce children's' toys.

In the twentieth century, anthropomorphism became highly popular amongst urban communities, who were often isolated from contact with real animals and who subsequently assigned human characteristics to soft toys. The baby boom of the 1950s stimulated massive demand for stuffed toy animals in order to entertain babies and young children, whilst increasing appreciation of stuffed animals in adult culture led to the establishment of teddy bear collectors' societies.

Soft toys remain very popular in human societies due to certain aspects of human psychology. Humans, like all mammals, are naturally predisposed to nurture their young, whilst humans' domestication of increasing numbers of creatures has led to a subconscious need to nurture and protect young animals as well as human children. In modern industrial societies, humans living in urban environments are frequently isolated from contact with animals (except household pets) and so are able to anthropomorphise soft toys. Humans' curiosity of the unknown and unfamiliar has led to a vast increase in the popularity of soft toys representing animals not indigenous to Europe, particularly exotic African animals such as elephants and parrots.

Plushophiles are people who are sexually aroused by stuffed animals.

Commercial manufacterers of stuffed animals

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