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[whitespace] Sick teddy bears find a place to go

Cupertino--Teddy is a shadow of his former self. A few years ago he was brand-new, but after hours of love from his owner, he's suffered rips on his legs and body, and his right arm is in danger of falling off. But Teddy knows that in a few days, he'll be good as new--he's scheduled for surgery at the Teddy Bear Hospital.

At the hospital, Teddy bears and other stuffed animals will receive full medical examinations conducted by a team of real doctors, dentists, psychologists and triage nurses.

The Teddy Bear Hospital is one segment of a local church's annual outreach event--the Teddy Bear Fair. The fair will be held this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Valley Presbyterian Church. Other attractions include an Adopt-A-Bear Agency and a Teddy Bear Museum.

Organizers expect the hospital, staffed by 11 health care professionals, to treat 200 Teddy bears this year. Last year, 125 Teddy bears were brought in by their owners for medical attention

"Surgeries ranged all the way from stitching up small cuts to replacing limbs, and one bear even got a sawdust transfusion," said Hank Kirtland, a member of the Bear Den, the fair's organizing committee.

Following the surgeries--and any other necessary medical procedures--each bear owner receives a "Well Bear Certificate," indicating the animal has earned a clean bill of health. Included on the certificate are a few simple instructions on preventative care: "Hugs and kisses to be given every day Teddies do not mind if their fur wears a little from lots of hugs."

Children who attend the fair and do not have a Teddy bear can get one at the Adopt-A-Bear Agency.

At the Teddy Bear Museum, visitors can view examples of rare bears--though not all of them are that unusual.

"Some of the bears aren't unique or rare, but they are special to the people who own them," Kirtland said.

Children are encouraged to have their picture taken with Maxi Bear, a 5-foot tall stuffed animal that doctors treated at last year's fair.

While the focus will be on the Teddies, the church will also set up games, crafts, face-painting, a playground, balloons and a Dixieland jazz band. Kids can make Mother's Day cards at one of the crafts booths. Hot dogs, chips, sodas and cookies are available for $1.

For more information, contact the West Valley Presbyterian Church, 6191 Bollinger Road, on the corner of Bollinger Road and Miller Avenue, at 252-1365.
Michelle Ku

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Web extra to the May 6-12, 1999 issue of Metro.

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