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Speaker's Footnotes

Relevant references and citations — with detailed annotations — provided to TED by Jon Mooallem.

  • 01:04

    “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” by cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman, can be found in the Library of Congress' online archive.

  • 01:29

    Some people believe the first teddy bears were made by Rose Michtom, the wife of a toy shop owner in Brooklyn. Others insist it was Margarete Steiff, a German seamstress whose family’s company, Steiff, is still the most prominent producer of teddy bears today. When I was writing my book, Wild Ones, I thought it would be easy to get to the bottom of this question. It wasn’t. Eventually, I emailed a renowned “teddy bear specialist” named Daniel Agnew thinking he’d know, but he basically threw up his hands, too. “I prefer to believe the Michtom story,” he replied, “but Steiff has the only proof of a bear being made in 1902. Germans are very good at record keeping. It's a contentious point.”

  • 01:38

    This bit about my feeling ridiculous probably comes off as some empty, rhetorical aside. Trust me, it wasn’t. It was a genuine whimper of profound self-doubt. The TED conference was in its third or fourth day by this point, and imagine you’re me, meeting all these impressive and successful people — people who’ve traveled to outer space or are engineering fusion or greening China — and, every time they ask you what your talk is going to be about, you have to look them in the eye and say, “Teddy bears.” It takes a certain psychic toll.

  • 02:26

    The Steiff company actually made a line of stuffed animal toys before 1902 that included a bear, but their original bear was much more terrifying and realistic-looking: it had a humpy, brutish back and it came chained through its nose to a little pole.

  • 04:11

    The research I’m talking about here is generally gathered under the umbrella term “Human-Animal Studies.” 

  • 04:29

    William F. Siemer et al., "Factors that influence concern about human–black bear interactions in residential settings," Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 2009

  • 04:42

    E. Paul Ashley et al., "Incidence of intentional vehicle-reptile collisions," Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 2007

  • 04:52

    Jennifer Wolch and Jin Zhang, "Siren Songs: Gendered Discourse of Concern for Sea Creatures," in A Companion to Feminist Geography, Lise Nelson and Joni Seager (Editors), Blackwell Publishing, 2004

  • 05:07

    R. J. Hoage (Editor), Perceptions of Animals in American Culture, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989

  • 05:07

    Janis Wiley Driscoll, "Attitudes toward animals: Species ratings," Society and Animals, 1995

  • 05:22

    Stephen R. Kellert, The Value of Life, Island Press, 1997

    The Yale social ecologist is one of the godfathers of this kind of research. He lays all of this out beautifully, and in much more depth, in this book.

  • 10:34

    I was surprised to find that, more than a century later, a small selection of stuffed opossums has found its way back onto the market. But, judging from the reviews I found on Amazon, the toys seem to be mostly bought as gag gifts for people who have had creepy run-ins with actual opossums. A review posted by Unusualfinds on July 6, 2010, for example, explains that the Fiesta Toys 10-inch plush opossum is so realistic that her daughter actually screamed when she first took it out of the box. Unusualfinds goes on to explain that she removed the toy opossum’s tail, took out some of its stuffing, shortened it and sewed it back on: “Easy to do and made it much more toy-like looking, and less realistic,” she writes. “We all love it now, but opossums are not lovable in real life.”

  • 11:42

    J. Michael Scott et al., "Recovery of imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act: The need for a new approach," Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, September 2005

    The idea of conservation reliance, and the term, originated in this article from 2005. In a subsequent paper, “Conservation-reliant species and the future of conservation,” published in 2010 in Conservation Letters, Scott and his colleagues determined that 84 percent of the species listed under the Endangered Species Act are conservation-reliant: That is, their survival is always going to require human intervention; we can never walk away.

  • 13:24

    I’m careful to say the “legend” of Roosevelt and that bear in Mississippi, because the story I’ve recounted — the teddy bear origin story as it’s been remembered and always gets passed on — isn’t really the whole truth. Roosevelt did show the bear mercy, but it was a particular kind of mercy. The part that always gets left out of the story is that after Roosevelt refused to shoot the animal, he turned to one of his hunting buddies and said, “Put it out of its misery” — at which point this other fellow slashed the animal’s neck open with his knife. Then Roosevelt’s party carried the bear back to their camp where they cooked and ate it over the next several days. A November 17, 1902 story in The New York Times describes them finishing off the bear’s roasted paws with a side — no joke — of possum and taters. 

  • 13:50

    Most of this talk is adapted from my book, Wild Ones. When the book came out, Black Prairie — a folk band, which features members of the Decemberists — released a kind of soundtrack to the book, also called Wild Ones. It's an album of songs based on scenes, characters and stories I encountered in my reporting. In the fall of 2013, we did a tour together, with me telling stories from the book and Black Prairie live-orchestrating my narration on stage. You can hear one of those shows on the podcast 99% Invisible.