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Travel

Berlin: Bears as Ambassadors for Tolerance

"The MINIS" have been touring Germany and other European countries. Now they are making a pit stop in Berlin, the city where they were dreamt up.

More than one hundred of the one-meter tall Buddy Bears are going on display close to the capital's Potsdamer Platz through May 22.

The motto of the exhibition is "We have to get to know each other better. It helps us understand each other better, trust each other more, and live together more peacefully"

The bear has long been the heraldic symbol of Berlin. And it was a Berlin couple - inspired by New York street art - who first came up with the idea of creating these colorful creatures in 2001. Each bear was given a unique identity by individual artists. With their outstretched paws and cute round bellies, they have become a popular photo motif for the city dwellers and tourists alike.

"United Buddy Bears" took the idea in a new direction. Each bear has been decorated by an artist from a different country and represents their culture. All of the countries recognised by the United Nations were invited to design a bear by the German Foreign Ministry via their ambassadors in Berlin. The figures have been on tour for more than ten years and have been seen by tens of millions of people.

Last year, the two-meter tall Buddy Bears journeyed from Cuba to Chile. Their mini counterparts stopped off in Kazan in Russia. The Buddy Bears have raised more than two million euros for UNICEF and local child aid organizations.

United Buddy Bears - The MINIS can be visited daily, including Sundays and public holidays, from 11am to 7pm. Admission to the Ministergärten, or Ministerial Gardens, is free.