It was just a scruffy toy bear, with fur a bit worn and stuffing getting lumpy, but 12-year-old Jessica Malcolm hadn't spent one night of her life without it. "Jessica's grandmother had a teddy bear shop and gave her Teddy when she was born," Jessica's mother, Libby Malcolm, told the Daily Telegraph, "and she has slept with her every single day since." That is, until Tuesday. Returning home to Sydney, Australia from a vacation in London, Jessica lost her treasured stuffed animal somewhere in the airport. "She absolutely bawled her eyes out," said her mom. "If you know Jess, you know that Teddy is a part of her life.
The following day, a family friend tweeted the hashtag #findteddy and struck Internet gold when actor and prolific tweeter Russell Crowe retweeted it, setting in motion a chain of events that would hopefully bring Teddy home.
Sydney newscaster Sarah Harris also tweeted a picture, along with a call for help.
Suddenly, one girl's heartbreak was transformed into a full-scale bear hunt that connected millions of Twitter users. The tweets reached the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS), and on Thursday morning, the agency reported, "After a thorough search, officers located the teddy safe, sound, and fast asleep in a Customs controlled area of the Airport." It added, "Although she didn't have a valid passport or any other travel documents, ACBPS officers were quick to establish her identity after a short interview and are confident she can be allowed into the country to be reunited with her family." They also reassured Jessica that Teddy was having fun on a sleepover with the border patrol's mascot, a plush puppy.
Australian television and radio personality Kate Langbroek announced the good news to the world.
"Jess woke up [on Thursday] and said she'd had a nightmare that we would never find Teddy—and then we got the call that she had been found," her mother told the Telegraph. "I never knew Teddy could have had so much of an impact—perfect strangers were wishing us well and helping us—it just restores your faith in humanity."
Only a month ago, social media helped another stuffed animal find its owner after it was lost at King's Cross railway station in London. The success of these reunions of toys with their beloved human children makes us ponder the life of Paddington, if only he had existed in the age of the Internet.