Teddy’s Bear

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In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt legendarily spared the life of a black bear — and prompted a plush toy craze for so-called “teddy bears.” Writer Jon Mooallem digs into this story and asks us to consider how the tales we tell about wild animals have real consequences for a species’ chance of survival — and the natural world at large.

John Mooallem

What do we see when we look at wild animals -- do we respond to human-like traits, or thrill to the idea of their utter unfamiliarity? Jon Mooallem's book, Wild Ones , examines our relationship with wild animals both familiar and feral, telling stories of the North American environmental movement from its unlikely birth, and following three species who've come to symbolize our complicated relationship with whatever "nature" even means anymore. Mooallem has written about everything from the murder of Hawaiian monk seals, to Idahoan utopians, to the world’s most famous ventriloquist, to the sad, secret history of the invention of the high five. A recent piece, "American Hippopotamus," was an Atavist story on, really, a plan in 1910 to jumpstart the hippopotamus ranching industry in America.

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