Bears fascinate us. As a society, think of all the ways we have included them in our lives — often a child’s first toy is a teddy bear, Smokey Bear reminds us to keep our forests safe, bear hugs can better the worst of days, Pooh bear has a book series, a clothing line and a movie franchise, not to mention themed decorations in children’s rooms across the country.

Our fascination with bears goes back to man’s ancient history and the evidence is in nearly every culture. People have been sympathetic to bears consistently throughout history because of their human-like characteristics. Their ability to walk on two legs, their aptitude for being trained, their omnivore diet and their general timidness has endeared bears to our hearts for centuries.