+

1. This is a Louisiana black bear.

Image from John Connell/Flickr.


Don't recognize it? If you ever had a stuffed animal toy, maybe you should.

2.The Louisiana black bear allegedly inspired an American shopkeeper to make the original teddy bear.

The story goes that way back in 1902 President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Mississippi. Despite Roosevelt being a famously avid hunter, when his hosts captured and tied up a black bear (intending to give it to him as an easy trophy), Roosevelt refused to shoot the animal, saying it was unsportsmanlike.

The press eventually got hold of this story, and this excellent cartoon was born:

This political cartoon in The Washington Post depicted Roosevelt's historic refusal. Image from Clifford Berryman/Wikimedia Commons.

Well, the story goes on to say that the cartoon was seen by a shop owner named Morris Michtom. Now, at this time there were other stuffed bear toys around, but it was apparently Michtom who first called them "Teddy's bears," which proved immensely popular and eventually turned into teddy bears.

3. While many subspecies of of black bears are thriving, the Louisiana black bear in particular have been struggling.

Image from Skeeze/Pixabay.

There are 16 different subspecies of black bears, and most have been doing well, but the ones in Louisiana haven't been doing so hot.

Part of this is because while Roosevelt didn't shoot that captured bear, other Louisiana bear hunts continued on. And it wasn't just that: As people chopped down the forests, the black bears were losing their homes. This one-two punch dropped the population of Louisiana black bears to under a hundred.

4. But thanks to a lot of people working hard to restore its home, the iconic Louisiana black bear finally has a brighter future ahead.

Image from U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.

In the 1992, the government, recognizing the bear's plight, added the Louisiana black bear to its list of endangered species, granting it special federal protections.

Now, more than two decades later, it's been declared that the Louisiana black bear population has recovered. So much that they're going to be removed from the list of federally protected species. A lot of that is thanks to landowners helping to restore the forests the black bears depend on as homes.

5. That's great news for a true icon! Why so iconic, you ask? Well, they didn't just give us teddy bears; they were also the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh.

The original pooh bear. Image from Manitoba Provincial Archives/Wikimedia Commons.

Despite the more well known image nowadays of Winnie-the-Pooh as a tan bear in a red shirt, it's a black bear who gave him his name.

The original A.A. Milne character was based on his son's stuffed bear (originally called Edward Bear), who was later renamed "Winnie" after meeting a real-life and somewhat famous Canadian black bear named Winnie at the London Zoo during World War I. (The "Pooh" comes from an encounter with a swan).

6. Black bears even stayed at the White House.

President Calvin Coolidge also had a pygmy hippo and a wallaby. Can we please get Obama a wallaby? National Photo Company/Wikimedia Commons.

President Calvin Coolidge kept a pet black bear in the White House. Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt also had pet bears, but we don't know the species, unfortunately.

7. Which is kind of amazing, considering they can weigh half a ton.

Can you imagine this guy sitting in the Oval Office? Image from Casey Brown/Flickr.

That was the weight of the biggest black bear even seen, although the typical specimen is more like 400-500 pounds.

8. Their size doesn't stop black bears from being super athletes.

Image from Joshua Kenney/Flickr.

They're also quite good at swimming and can run 30 miles per hour.

9. Believe it or not, black bears aren't just black.

Image from Jon Rawlinson/Wikimedia Commons.

Black bears aren't just great at sports; they're fashion models too! They can be blueish, brown, cinnamon-colored, or even white. The white ones aren't albinos, by the way. That's just what their fur looks like.

10. Some of their relatives, like these sun bears, look a little goofy.

Two sun bears in Viet Nam. Image from Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images.

American black bears are most closely related to the Asian black bear and the Internet meme-inspiring sun bear.

11. But their ancestors were mega-awesome.

Image from Ghedoghedo/Wikimedia Commons.

All bears are descended from big, ancient predators known as "bear dogs." Guess who else is descended from bear dogs? (Hint: It's dogs.)

12. Black bears generally aren't picky eaters...

Mmm. Celery. Image from John Verive/Flickr.

Black bears are omnivores, which means they'll eat both plants and animals. And yes, they do eat honey, although they also love the bee grubs as well.

13. ...but with a sense of smell that is seven times better than dogs', black bears often find themselves in trouble when they go digging for food in trash cans and campsites.

This bear just found the ultimate lunch box. Image from California Department of Fish and Wildlife/Flickr.

Black bears also have pretty good hearing and vision. They can even see in color like humans.

14. Black bears, like many animals, would prefer to not run into humans.

Image from Skeeze/Pixabay.

Black bears are usually pretty shy and would rather run from people than fight them. But in places where bears have gotten too used to eating trash or getting handouts, they lose that fear of humans and can get aggressive.

15. That's partly why many campsites in bear country ask people to keep their sites clean and to not feed the bears.

Some parks use bear-proof trash cans like this one. Image from AllenS/Wikimedia Commons.

16. Keeping bears away from our campsites and homes is good for us and for them; that's why it's such welcome news to hear that conservation efforts have given Teddy's bears their homes back.

Image from Jim Martin/Wikimedia Commons.

While we might purposefully invite teddy bears into our homes, it's heartening to see that the Louisiana black bear has a home of its own again.

17. Thanks to these efforts, it looks like Teddy's bears will be with us for a long time.

Image from Skeeze/Pixabay.

Scientists say the population will be safe for at least the next 100 years, and removing them from the government's endangered species list won't remove their protections. It just means that the state will take over their care instead of the federal government.

So it looks like we won't be losing our real-life teddy bears anytime soon.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

Keep ReadingShow less

Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

Keep ReadingShow less