CUDDLY toy bears are giving children dangerous misapprehensions about how to approach actual bears, experts believe.
A study found that children raised with a teddy bear were more likely to try and approach and hug a grizzly bear on sighting, and therefore more likely to get eaten.
Professor Henry Brubaker, of the Institute for Studies, said: “We should have realised this would backfire.
“We found that instead of rightly fearing tigers, lions and bears, children simply attempted to ride on them, stroke them or leave them on the bus sparking a heartwarming social media search.
“Our study recommends replacing cuddly versions of such animals with soft toys representing an animal even a child could defeat, like a worm or a mouse.
“After the age of nine they can move up to a duck, and by 12 they should be on the most terrifying animal an adult human could realistically fight on their own, the European otter.
“Not the South American giant otter. They’re five feet long and will fuck you up worse than a bear would.”