Man-Eating Teddy Bears of the Scrub: Exploring the Australian Drop Bear Urban Legend
Keywords:Drop bear, urban legend, Australian folklore, digital legend cycle, vampire
AbstractUrban legends are contemporary forms of folklore that are often used to provide lessons in morality or explicate local beliefs, dangers, or customs. In Australia, one such tale describes fiendish, carnivorous, blood-sucking koala-like animals that launch themselves from trees at unsuspecting tourists in the Australian scrub. The drop bear (also known as Thylarctos plummetus or Thylarctos plummetus vampirus) is an urban legend common to tropical Australian scrub regions that serves as a cautionary tale intended to warn against the dangers associated with traversing the Australian bush. As such, the figure of the drop bear represents a uniquely Australian manifestation of the vampire motif. This article examines representations of the drop bear urban legend as provided in contemporary pseudo-scientific, satirical, and popular media sources by means of critical discourse analysis, in addition to exploring how archaeological evidence has been mobilised in support of drop bear narratives. Through a critical review of drop bear tales in accordance with established folklore typologies the paper posits a categorisation of drop bear narratives as urban legend, while also explicating the impacts of social media and the internet on the perpetuation and dissemination of the drop bear legend.
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