Pedobear is an internet meme that became popular through the imageboard 4chan. As the name suggests ("pedo" being short for "pedophile"), it is portrayed as a pedophilic bear. It is a concept used to mock pedophiles or people who have an interest in minors or jailbait. The bear image has been likened to bait used to lure children or as a mascot for pedophiles.
The bear character originates from the popular bulletin board system (BBS) website 2channel in Japan, where it was introduced, in the form of Shift_JIS art, as クマー (Kumā), an interjection of the word 熊 (Kuma) meaning bear in Japanese. Unlike Pedobear, Kumā has no sexual connotations, pedophilic or otherwise.
Although initially appearing as a single line:
- くまくま━━━━━━ヽ（ ・(ｪ)・ ）ノ━━━━━━ !!!
various posts modified it until reaching the final form as multi-line art:
∩＿＿＿∩ |ノ ヽ / ● ● | クマ──！！ | (_●_) ミ 彡､ |∪| ､｀＼ / ＿＿ ヽノ /´> ) (＿＿＿） / (_／ | / | ／＼ ＼ | / ) ) ∪ （ ＼ ＼＿)
Eventually, posting Kuma Shift_JIS art evolved into a response to "fishing" posts submitted as "bait" to attract people (fishing for attention), which is why the bear is depicted as literally running into the forum to get the bait.
The Kuma character was adopted by 4chan and quickly became a meme there, especially on the /b/ board. On 2ch, Kuma was often depicted in images sleeping with children, and this was promptly exploited on 4chan to create the Pedobear persona. Soon it gained its representation as an image rather than text art, and started being superimposed in pictures depicting children (especially if these pictures could be interpreted as sexually suggestive, such as when involving swimsuits, underwear or child beauty pageants). Another common use of the character was to mock or otherwise signal the posting of borderline child erotica content, sometimes with references to FBI or Chris Hansen, the host of the TV show To Catch a Predator.
Pedobear eventually became known outside 4chan as it was referenced by newspapers and prominent websites. It has been frequently misunderstood as a mascot of child sex offenders when on the contrary it mocks such people.
On 3 July 2009, Canadian artist Michael R. Barrick created two composite images depicting Pedobear grouped together with the mascots of 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. One is based on the official art, and the other is based on fanart created by Angela Melick. This image was then mistakenly used by other media, most notably the Polish newspaper Gazeta Olsztyńska for a 4 February 2010 front page story about the Olympics in Vancouver.
On 24 July 2009, a column by conservative commentator Pat Buchanan about the early months of Barack Obama's presidency included an image of Pedobear, which generated considerable reaction from non-political commentators.
Other uses of Pedobear include an iStockphoto wallpaper, a cover of the auto magazine Import Tuner, and a flyer of a costume store in Portland, Oregon which accidentally featured a Pedobear-like figure, being later covered by a local news station, which provided a detailed history of Pedobear, and even interviewed Cheezburger Network's CEO Ben Huh about Pedobear's cultural significance.
In September 2010 cosplay participants dressed as the character were accused of being pedophiles, after the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department issued a warning that Pedobear was a sign of the presence of pedophiles and other people with inappropriate sexual behavior, and suggested that Pedobear was a kind of mascot among pedophiles. Law enforcement officials in San Diego later sent a warning to local media, warning parents that the image can indicate the presence of pedophiles. It also issued a bulletin:
Gawker later reported that it had spoken to the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department, and the department knows it's an "Internet joke", despite the fact that they refer to pedophiles adopting it as a mascot. Two local television stations, KSBY and KCOY-TV, passed on the warning to their viewers. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sgt. John Adams of the Tulsa Police Department Child Exploitation Unit told local television stations KOKI-TV and KOTV that the person wearing the costume was a registered sex offender.
On March 22, 2011, the blog Urlesque posted a photograph of a coupon book advertisement for “CP Distributor”, a computer repair business in Polk County, Florida ("CP" in a Pedobear context normally stands for child porn).
In July 2011, a Pedobear iPhone application was removed from Apple's App Store. It contained a series of dance moves and background music, with the mascot branded as "Cuddle Bear". It lasted a few weeks before users noticed its presence, having originally been released on June 25.
In March 2012, a primary school in Christchurch, New Zealand was notified by the public of the meaning of a student-created poster portraying Pedobear in a classroom window. The poster was left displayed to the public for some time.
On July 19, 2012, the Nestlé food company took down the inaugural Instagram photo from its Kit Kat chocolate bar's Facebook page because it featured a person dressed as a bear, in a photo produced by Nestlé itself, that some Internet users quickly pointed out resembled the Pedobear cartoon. Nestle officials claimed they were completely unaware of the Pedobear meme.
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- "Pedobear "Doubt" Trailer - CollegeHumor video". CollegeHumor. 2009-06-02. Archived from the original on 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
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- "Gallery". SpikeComix.com. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-08-03Pedobear was also starred as a 3 second character on Cartoon Network's MAD on a short called "Grey's in Anime". But pedobear is seen as green, but can still be recognized..
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- "'Pedobear' an Olympic mascot?". Toronto Sun. 10 February 2010.
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- San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department Public Information Bulletin "A Seemingly Innocent Menace. An introduction to "PEDO BEAR" page 1 and Page 2
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- , Pedobear on computer parts ad.
- Pedobear iPhone app vanishes from Apple store | Technology | News & Comment | The First Post
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- "Pedobear pops up at school". 4 March 2012.
- , Pedobear comparison prompts Nestle to pull Instagram photo for Kit Kat