6-year-old Reunited With Teddy Bear After Losing Him in Glacier National Park Nearly 1 Year Ago

The bear was found and kept safely thanks to a sentimental park ranger.

Hidden Lake And Bearhat Mountain In Glacier National Park
Photo: Zack Frank/Getty Images

Almost one year after a teddy bear was lost in Glacier National Park, he was reunited with his six-year-old owner.

Recently, the Montana park shared a story on its Facebook page about the touching reunion between a six-year-old girl named Naomi and "Teddy," the bear that she lost while visiting in October 2020.

Naomi has had Teddy since 2016 — the year she was adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage. Teddy was the first gift her parents sent her and over the years, he has accompanied her on family trips to places like Rwanda, Croatia, and Greece, according to the social media post.

When the family visited Montana last year, Teddy also came along. While her father went on a hike, Naomi spent time with a family friend, Terri Hayden, in Glacier National Park. They were almost back to Hayden's home (about 40 miles south of the park) when they realized they didn't have Teddy.

Snowy conditions caused higher elevations of the park to close for the season preventing Hayden from returning and searching for Teddy. She made a report to park officials, hoping that someone would spot Teddy in the wild and return him to the lost-and-found.

Towards the end of the season, Ranger Tom Mazzarisi, a bear specialist at the park, was conducting some end-of-season cleaning work near the Hidden Lake Trail when he spotted the bear. Although normally the team throws away anything they find that isn't worth much money, the adorable stuffed bear was different.

"Bears are my passion. I just didn't have the heart to throw it away," Mazzarisi said in a statement on the park's Facebook page. "There was something special about this teddy bear, so I adopted him and named him Ceasar."

Caesar (né Teddy) stayed in Mazzarisi's cabin during the off-season, and when he returned to the park in April, he put the teddy bear on the dash of his car as a mascot.

In September, Hayden returned to the park, hoping to check the lost and found points and see if Teddy had turned up. Hayden and her niece walked around the park and when they turned back from a trail that was due to bear activity, they saw a stuffed bear sitting on the dash of a ranger's truck.

Hayden took a picture of the bear and sent it to Naomi's parents — who confirmed that it was indeed Teddy.

Mazzarisi was off duty that day and the truck was locked. Hayden went looking to find other park rangers who could help.

"I run up to these rangers and I'm hyperventilating," Hayden told CBS News. "And I'm going, 'There's a truck down at the trailhead and there's a bear sitting on the dashboard.'"

The rangers knew the bear's story and helped track down the keys to the vehicle, then personally deliver the bear to Hayden so he could go home (along with a new junior ranger pin). A few days later, an elated Naomi was reunited with Teddy.

In return for keeping Teddy safe, Hayden bought a replacement stuffed bear for Mazzarisi. He has named the bear "Clover" and she will ride in Mazzarisi's truck when he returns to the park in the spring.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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