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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 January 2005, 03:39 GMT
'Crazy' teddy row hits US state
Teddy bear in straitjacket - [Photo: Vermont Teddy Bear Co.]
The product is a one-off for Valentine's Day
A company in the US state of Vermont has sparked controversy with a teddy bear in a straitjacket emblazoned with a love heart for Valentine's Day.

State governor Jim Douglas and mental health advocates have attacked the "Crazy for you" cuddly toy, saying it stigmatises mental illness.

But it is proving popular with shoppers, and the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. will not withdraw it from sale.

Its president said the company was "truly sorry" for any offence caused.

Elizabeth Robert said the $70 (37) bear was meant as a funny Valentine's Day message from men to lovers for whom they were crazy.

She described the bear as a one-off product and said the company would continue selling it until it sold out.

But Ms Robert admitted she felt ambivalent about the issue.

"One of the things that I've learned is that this in fact may be hurting someone and I think we really feel sincerely sorry here at Vermont Teddy Bear," she said, quoted by the Burlington Free Press newspaper.

The decision to continue to sell it had been a difficult one, she said.

"I listened to customers, from a lot of feedback from our employees," she added. "These people are Vermonters who really don't like to be told what to do."

A survey of 10,000 customers showed it was the most popular of 12 bears in the Valentine's Day range, she said.



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