The 'Spectacled Bear' from Peru
Paddington Bear Celebrated his 50th Anniversary in June 2008, the world famous "Spectacled Bear" who originated in Peru
The nations favourite Paddington Bear celebrated his 50th anniversary this year and although he now lives in London, he originally came from ‘Deepest Darkest Peru'. Paddington is a rather special bear, not only for his love of marmalade and his favourite duffel coat, but by being an endangered breed called the “Spectacled Bear”. These bears are most closely associated with high altitude Andean cloud forests ranging from 250 – 4,000 meters above sea level and the lush Amazon found in Peru.
Spectacled Bears have an instinctive urge to climb trees, rocks and cliff-sides to reach the highest and most nutritious foods such as roots, leaves, shoots, berries and insects. A number of conservation projects have been set-up in Peru to protect the endangered species which include rescue centres and re-introducing the bears into their natural habitats. Popular UK actor, Stephen Fry read the Paddington Bear stories when he was a young boy and has since made two documentaries about the Spectacled Bears, Paddington Bear: The Early Years (2001), and Stephen Fry and the Spectacled Bears (2002). These programmes heightened the awareness to protect Paddington's family and now breeding programmes are in progress.
Paddington Trivia – Did you know?
- Paddington Bear was brought up by his Aunt Lucy but was sent to London when his Aunt went to live in the ‘Home for Retired Bears' in Lima.
- Paddington was named after Paddington train station where he was found by Mr. Brown. He then went to live at Number 32 Windsor Gardens in London.
- Paddington has two birthdays a year (like the Queen!) on 25th June and 25th December.
- The hat which he is never seen without, is an old brush hat handed down to him by his uncle in Peru.
- Michael Bond is the creator of Paddington and his first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published on 13th October 1958. He was then working as a television cameraman for the BBC. He now lives in London, not far from Paddington station!
- Over 30 million books have now been sold and the stories have been translated into more than 40 languages.
- ‘Paddington Here and Now' was published to mark Paddington's 50th anniversary on 2nd June 2008, and is the first new Paddington novel in thirty years!
- Paddington travelled from Peru bearing a label attached to his coat which reads, ‘Please look after this bear. Thank you.' Michael Bond used this tag as it reminded him of seeing images of trainloads of child evacuees leaving London during the war, with labels around their necks.
- The first Paddington Bear toy was created by Gabrielle Designs in 1972, a small business run by Shirley and Eddie Clarkson. The prototype was made as a Christmas present for her children Joanna and UK TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson.