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Strangeness in Zürich

Whilst in Zürich on business, I was puzzled to see large teddy bears everywhere on almost every street corner in the centre of town and a veritable platoon of them in the Bahnhoff … there seems to be literally hundreds of them scattered around the city. It is certainly interesting but I have no idea why they are there. Does anyone know?






Interesting but… a bit perplexing

Who says the Swiss have no sence of humour?

21 comments to Strangeness in Zürich

  • M. in Boston

    Perhaps it’s the local version of the NYC art project centered around dozens of artist-customized fiberglass cows scattered throughout the city several years ago? (Around 2000-2001?)

  • GCooper

    I’d have gussed they were in honour of Mary Plain, but she lived in Berne.

    Um… don’t tell me I’m the only one here who loved Gwynedd Rae’s Mary Plain books as a child?

  • Nick

    Ah yes, the joys of the bears of Zurich. No, I have no idea either. However, the internet would appear to suggest that one possible explanation may have a link to Teddy Summer.

    Of course, given thats just me randomly guessing with Google, I could be entirely wrong (sorry, mate, its late and I couldn’t resist).

  • Hans Grietzer

    M. in Boston, the ‘cow parade’ started in Zurich(Link) in 1998 and spread to other cities (including the US) later.

  • According to dependable Neue Zürcher Zeitung (German), it is a limited time city decoration performance, following the pattern of the plastic lions (1986), cows (1998) and benches (2001). What’s more, the international teddy bear festival will be coming to Zurich on August 20./21.

  • jrdroll

    More American imperialism. Thanks Teddy Roosevelt.;)

  • The cows hit Houston, Texas as well.

    What a weird world I live in.

  • Damn! jrdroll beat me to the Teddy Roosevelt angle.

    They must be celebrating the dawn of “American Greatness!”

  • Ted Schuerzinger


    You shouldn’t have given Perry the NZZ link, but linked to the report in Blick (German only) instead. Blick has a section called “Erotik”, which as far as I know the stodgy NZZ doesn’t. 🙂

  • It’s called “whimsy”, and it’s surprising only because it comes from the Swiss, who are, after the Chicago City Council, the most un-whimsical people on the planet.

  • Johnathan

    Perry, what about Hippo statues in deepest Chelsea? Go on, put one up!

  • Stehpinkeln

    My thought was that the Bureaucrats in Brussels have finally chosen to show themselves. They picked Switzerland since that is where they keep their stolen loot.
    Stolen loot? Well, yes. As a fomer business person, I know that when you have a potentially lucrative enterprise that always seems to be strapped for cash, someones hand is in the till. As a former auditor, I know to look at the management first.

  • I’ve seen similar city-wide works in Buffalo [as buffalos, naturally] and horses in Rochester. I hadn’t known they’ve reached European cities. They’re typically fiberglass and local artists do whatever they like with them.

    But they’re a fundraising gimmick, possibly marketed by some firm or another. The results are auctioned off.

    Its not a bad idea. It showcases local talent, promotes civic pride, and increases the variety of public art while getting monies from the result of work rather than conficatory measures like taxation and fee increases.

  • Am I the only one bothered by seeing a bear wearing a bearskin hat?

  • I’ve also seen bison in Denver, pig in Seattle, sharks in San Jose, and elks in Elk Grove. The cows apparently require licensing but the other animals do not.

    The gist of the matter is that fiberglass beasties are churned out and decorated by local artists. Then they are placed in interesting spots and maps are made for the tourists. Then when the promotion is over they’re auctioned off. (A racetrack in the northern Bay Area acquired one “hot rod” cow this way, and she now stands atop their billboard.)

    Teddy bears seems a bit boring to me, honestly. They got nothing on pigs.

  • We did codfish in Boston a few years ago. They were not as “transgressive” as the orange tyrannosaurus, 60-foot suguaro cactus, fiberglass beef cattle, landlocked ship (at dry waterfront), and Leaning Tower of Pizza just up Route 1 in Saugus.

  • It’s been done in Vashinkdun Deezy … sorry – Washington DC with pandas and with donkeys & elephants as “Party Animals.” The most amusing incarnation was a panda done entirely in pink DC parking tickets (inasmuch as the only part of the DC bureaucracy that functions well is the extraction of money from drivers by parking enforcement).
    They auction off the beasties after the display has run and i think they’ve made pretty decent coin from it.

  • guy herbert

    The cows reached London, and I didn’t really mind them–though I’ve an awful feeling I was somehow paying through taxes for the artists’ cheerful if unremarkable exercise in lateral thinking–but there’s something deeply repulsive about fibreglass teddy bears. A teddy bear in the hands of a child is a fine thing, but representations of teddy bears almost always emanate tasteless sentimentality.

    Jeff Koons got away with his expanded versions commercial kitsch objects by being “ironic” for the benefit of posturing collectors and museums–and amused the rest of us by so comprehensively fleecing such poseurs. But we didn’t have to put up with it in the street. I do hope the bears are not coming here.

  • CV

    I remember they did crabs in Maryland a few years ago. This type of thing seems to go on all the time. I think it is kind of fun.

  • Mary in LA

    New Orleans had some sort of fish — probably catfish — a few years ago. Los Angeles had, as one might guess, angels.