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.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Upworthy is sharing this letter from Myra Sack on the anniversary of the passing of her daughter Havi Lev Goldstein. Loss affects everyone differently and nothing can prepare us for the loss of a young child. But as this letter beautifully demonstrates, grief is not something to be ignored or denied. We hope the honest words and feelings shared below can help you or someone you know who is processing grief of their own. The original letter begins below:


Dear Beauty,

Time is crawling to January 20th, the one-year anniversary of the day you took your final breath on my chest in our bed. We had a dance party the night before. Your posse came over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, closest friends, and your loving nanny Tia. We sat in the warm kitchen with music on and passed you from one set of arms to another. Everyone wanted one last dance with you. We didn’t mess around with only slow songs. You danced to Havana and Danza Kuduro, too. Somehow, you mustered the energy to sway and rock with each of us, despite not having had anything to eat or drink for six days. That night, January 19th, we laughed and cried and sang and danced. And we held each other. We let our snot and our tears rest on each other’s shoulders; we didn’t wipe any of them away. We ate ice cream after dinner, as we do every night. And on this night, we rubbed a little bit of fresh mint chocolate chip against your lips. Maybe you’d taste the sweetness.

Reggaeton and country music. Blueberry pancakes and ice cream. Deep, long sobs and outbursts of real, raw laughter. Conversations about what our relationships mean to each other and why we are on this earth.


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Cellist Cremaine Booker's performance of Faure's "Pavane" is as impressive as it is beautiful.

Music might be the closest thing the world has to real magic. Music has the ability to transform any atmosphere in seconds, simply with the sounds of a few notes. It can be simple—one instrument playing single notes like raindrops—or a complex symphony of melodies and harmonies, swirling and crashing like waves from dozens of instruments. Certain rhythms can make us spontaneously dance and certain chord progressions can make us cry.

Music is an art, a science, a language and a decidedly human endeavor. People have made music throughout history, in every culture on every continent. Over time, people have perfected the crafting of instruments and passed along the knowledge of how to play them, so every time we see someone playing music, we're seeing the history of humanity culminated in their craft. It's truly an amazing thing.

The pandemic threw a wrench into seeing live musicians for a good chunk of time, and even now, live performances are limited. Thankfully, we have technology that makes it easier for musicians to collaborate and perform with one another virtually—and also makes it easier for people to create "group" performances all by themselves.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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