One of Australia’s closest neighbours has turned to teddy bears in a bid to cut down on boredom amid the coronavirus lockdown.
The bears are popping up in the unlikeliest of places as New Zealanders embrace an international movement in which people are placing the stuffed animals in their windows during lockdowns to brighten the mood and give children a game to play by spotting the bears in their neighbourhoods.
New Zealand is currently in a four-week lockdown but exercising outside is still acceptable.
The campaign, called We’re Not Scared - NZ Bear Hunt started on Facebook on March 22 and encourages residents to “bring some joy and fun to kids when so much around them is being cancelled”.
It’s inspired by the book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” written by Michael Rosen.
“We’re not scared”, is a well known line from the book.
Deb Hoffman, who created the page, has also started a checklist kids can print off to help them log what they see when they’re out and about for their daily exercise, including brown bears, stuffed elephants and unicorns.
Ms Hoffman said one woman wrote that the teddy bears were the only thing getting her through the isolation after she had already been housebound for six weeks following surgery before the lockdown began.
“It’s a way for people to feel connected, and to contribute,” Ms Hoffman said.
“It’s really important at a time like this.”
She’s said she’s been taken aback by the huge response.
Among those getting behind the bear movement are The All Blacks.
“Barry the All Blacks bear is stoked to join the #NationalBearHunt today!” New Zealand’s national rugby team wrote on Facebook.
“He wishes that you all stay safe out there, wherever you are in the world.”
The team included a photo of their bear staring out a window.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is behind the movement too as is the New Zealand Police force.
People who don’t have bears have even resorted to trying to make their own, or trim their hedges to look like bears so children have something to spot.
However despite all the fun and games, Ms Ardern cautioned people not to get too close.
"They might look for teddy bears in windows but as they pass people, keep your distance, don't talk to others, just stay within your bubble," the New Zealand leader told reporters last week.
"And if you're in Wellington and you're walking in a local neighbourhood, you might see one in my window."
Aleshia Rough from Weymouth in south Auckland told Stuff.co.nz her entire neighbourhood is getting behind the movement.
"It's a pretty stressful time at the moment and the kids pick up on that energy, so to do something exciting like turn the neighbourhood into a teddy bear hunt is exciting for them," she said.
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