Volunteers knit bears for Andes expedition

Nimble-fingered lady spends nine months knitting Christmas toys (iStockPhoto)

Volunteers in Shaftesbury are being asked to knit lots of bears ahead of an expedition to Peru.

The Bournemouth Echo reports that members of the Scientific Exploration Society are venturing through tropical cloud forests in the Andes next year in order to help protect the rare spectacled bear.

They are calling on members of the community to make hundreds on tiny woollen versions of the bear which they can carry with them and give to children after visits to the dentist.

Speaking to the publication, society member Shirley Critchley said: "We need volunteer knitters who are happy to help us make hundreds of these bears.

"These will be given to children in Peru after dental extractions. The aim is that by giving them out as presents, we will help to change hearts and minds so that the children will love the bears instead of shooting them as they grow older."

Adventurers from the society will be visiting Yanachaga Chemillen National Park in July next year and hope to encourage indigenous people from the villages around the reserve to protect the bears by preserving the forest.

Mrs Critchley, who is a former schoolteacher who has been involved in many international expeditions with the group explained: "The bears, which really are adorable, are an endangered species.

"They are being shot because they frighten people, and also because they attack crops."

She went on to say that the society are looking for the bears to be knitted to any pattern, however they each need to be black and around six inches in height. They must also be wearing a pair of spectacles around their eyes.

"I'd like to call on any knitting groups or individuals to help us make enough. It's a brilliant thing to be doing and we very much hope it will make a difference," Mrs Critchley said,

As well as protecting the spectacled bear, volunteers are hoping to provide medical and dental treatment to Peruvian communities, as well as reading glasses.

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