Teddy bear lost at Milwaukee airport reunited with family

For a 5-year-old, losing a teddy bear is like losing a family member or a pet. Children bond because they truly believe their stuffed animals have an innate life force.

This is why when a child loses his object of attachment, it may be impossible to replace it, even if the parents find something identical.

“If there was a machine that copied a favorite object in every way down to the atomic level, we would always prefer the original. It has an essence,” psychologist Bruce Hood told The Guardian. “We anthropomorphize objects, look at them almost as if they have feelings. Children know that these objects are not alive but they believe in them as if they do.”

That’s why 5-year-old Ezekiel Burnett was devastated after losing his teddy bear, aka “Original Teddy,” at the Milwaukee airport last November. He was boarding a plane with his parents when he threw him up the hall and got stuck in the rafters.



The family didn’t have time to stop to pick up the bear for fear of missing its flight. So Original Teddy was left behind.

“He’s had this bear since day one and slept with it every night. It has a lot of sentimental value for him,” said his father, David Burnett. “When we got home he literally cried the whole flight and was still upset. So it’s really special for him.

In January, the bear was found and returned to the airport information desk and he posted several tweets looking for Original Teddy’s family. A post featuring the bear has gone viral and has been viewed over 4 million times.

Earlier this month, David Burnett and his wife were watching ‘Survivor’ on TV when she nearly jumped out of her chair like ‘she won the lottery’ after seeing a video of the bear shared by a friend on Facebook. “She couldn’t even speak,” he later recalled.

The family contacted the airport and shared the good news on Twitter.

This type of bear resonated with many people who shared the video and tweets because he has a heart on his chest with stitches. These cubs were given to children born with congenital heart defects. Ezekial was born with a healthy heart and received the bear as a gift from a family friend.


Southwest Airlines was kind enough to fly the family from their home in Texas to Milwaukee to collect the bear during a ceremony at one of their terminals.

“We are very honored to be part of this special moment,” said airport manager Brian Dranzik. “Small moments like this, as well as bigger ones, are the reason we support our hometown airport.”

David Burnett said his son was delighted the bear had been found and didn’t fully understand the “magnitude” of the event, “but talks about it every day”.

At the ceremony, Ezekiel and Original Teddy were reunited and hopefully this time is forever.

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