Global warming skeptics are blasting Build-A-Bear Workshop for being anything but soft and cuddly, accusing the well-known toy company of trying to indoctrinate young children with a series of videos warning of the effects of climate change.
The three-part video series, "Under the North Star: An Uplifting Christmas Experience," features a cartoon polar bear who warns Santa Claus that global warming is a "serious situation," one that could wreak havoc on the environment and potentially cause the North Pole to vanish by Christmas.
Critics say the Overland, Mo.-based company advocated a political stance to children, prompting the removal of the videos and a statement from Build-A-Bear founder and CEO Maxine Clark, who insisted the video series was intended to "inspire" children to make a difference as individuals.
"A mountain? A mountain's gone?" Santa asked on the video, which has been yanked from the company's Web site but can still be viewed on remains accessible on YouTube. "How is that possible?"
The bear responds, "Santa, sir, that's why I'm here. That's why we're here. The ice is melting."
"Yes, my dear, we know, the climate is changing," Santa replies. "There's bound to be a little melting."
"It's worse than that, Santa," the polar bear replies. "A lot worse. At the rate it's melting, the North Pole will be gone by Christmas."
Michael Graham, a radio talk show host on Boston's WTKK, said the video was "nothing but panic" and did little to educate children.
"There's not a lot about what kids can actually do, nothing about, 'Hey, go pick up litter in your local park,' or whatever," Graham told Fox News on Thursday. "This is pure propaganda targeting at little minds and then its left up to us parents to clean up the mess."
Maura Flynn, a contributor to BigGovernment.com, called for a boycott of the company, saying the video amounted to "brainwashing on the sleaziest and most sinister" level.
"People, we have the means, if we have the will, to topple these charlatans who shamelessly prey on little children," Flynn wrote.
In her statement on the Build-a-Bear Web site, Clark noted that the video concluded with Santa successfully delivering gifts worldwide.
"Our intention with the polar bear story was to inspire children, through the voices of our animal characters, to make a difference in their own individual ways," Clark said in a statement. "We did not intend to politicize the topic of global climate change or offend anyone in any way."
"The webisodes will no longer be available on the site," the statement said.