Bear suits are a type of costumed character or creature suit resembling a bear. They are a popular choice of mascot, and both stylized and realistic bear suits are commonly used in film and on stage, due to the bear's prominent role in the arts and entertainment. Specific types of bear suits are also used in activism, such as polar bear suits to draw attention to the threat of global warming.
Realistic and sometimes animatronic bear suits of all types are typically used in film, or as costumed characters. For the nature film Born in China, the filmmakers themselves were required to wear panda suits in order to get close to pandas that had never seen a human before.
A realistic two-person polar bear suit was created for the 2011 play Greenland by the Royal National Theatre, and was later purchased by Greenpeace for £4,000 via a donation campaign. It was named Paula, and was used in short films and as a costumed character to draw public attention to global warming.
Bear suits have also been used in science, as researchers used one to study goats' response to predators both within and outside populated areas, and to study the effects of the increasing presence of polar bears on muskoxen due to global warming. In the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China, keepers wear panda suits to interact with cubs and teach them to live in the wild without relying on humans.
In popular culture
Bear suits are used in the production of various children's television series, such as Bear in the Big Blue House. In Disneyland, the characters Kenai and Koda from Brother Bear (2003) are portrayed by performers in bear suits. The film Brigsby Bear (2017) revolves around a fictional fake children's television show featuring a performer in a bear suit, which the main character later wears in an attempt to create a movie.
The character of Smokey Bear is often portrayed by a bear mascot suit in order to spread awareness about wildfires.
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