Singapore-Germany ties: What are Buddy Bears?

German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shake hands at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin on Feb 3, 2015. When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, they posed
German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shake hands at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin on Feb 3, 2015. When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, they posed beside two 2m-tall Buddy Bears. -- PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION OF SINGAPORE

When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, they posed beside two 2m-tall Buddy Bears.

The fibre-glass bear statues are designed to symbolise the bilateral friendship between Singapore and Germany.

Here are five facts about them:

1. Why the bear?

The bear is the heraldic animal of Berlin. How it came about is lost in history, but seals and coat of arms that include bears appeared as early as 1280.

2. How Buddy Bears came about

Buddy Bears began as a street art event in Berlin, started by Klaus and Eva Herlitz in 2001. Hundreds of bears were created and displayed in the city that year.

There were bears on all fours, on two legs, standing on its head and sitting down. These bears have gone on tour around the world in Shanghai, Buenos Aires and St Gallen, Switzerland.

3. United Buddy Bears

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In 2002, an international edition called United Buddy Bears was created. It is a display of about 140 2m-tall Buddy Bears, one for each nation recognised by the United Nations.

Singapore's United Buddy Bear (seen above) was designed by Jacqueline Harliman.

The bears stand hand in hand in a peaceful circle. They are also on tour and have made a stop in Malaysia, among other countries.

4. SG50 competition

A competition ran from Sept 15 to Nov 14, 2014, calling for citizens of Singapore and Germany to submit designs based on the theme "50 years of Singapore-Germany friendship".

Designers of two winning entries won a trip to Singapore or Germany and a cash prize of €1,500 (S$2,300).

The two winners of the contest are Joanna Feith, a student from a vocational school in Baden Wuerttemberg; and Ellvixson Yap, a recent graduate from Singapore Polytechnic.

5. Charity

United Buddy Bears has raised over €2 million in aid of Unicef and local children's relief organisations.

One of the new bears commemorating ties between Singapore and Germany will be auctioned to raise money for charity. The other will be displayed at the Singapore Embassy in Berlin.

chuimin@sph.com.sg

Sources: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, buddy-baer.com