Monterey, CA – October 30, 2012 – The Monterey Bay Aquarium and its retail partner Service Systems Associates, Inc. (SSA), which operates the aquarium’s gift and bookstores, have added an all-American toy to what has become a globalized sector: a made-in-USA plush sea otter, created in collaboration with the Arizona-based Stuffington Bear Factory.

The aquarium, SSA and Stuffington are evaluating the possibility of developing more U.S.-made plush animals for the aquarium and potentially for other SSA partners.

The new sea otter, gripping a bright red sea star, is one in a growing line of domestically sourced gift items offered at the aquarium by SSA, which manages guest services for zoos, museums and aquariums nationwide.

The otter was created for the aquarium by Stuffington Bear Factory in Phoenix. Stuffington is one of the few remaining stuffed toy companies that manufacture plush animals in the United States. Stuffington has designed and created hand-sewn stuffed animals for direct sale and wholesale distribution since 1959.

The new otter, which retails for $19.99, will be available both at the aquarium Gift and Bookstore, and at Monterey’s Portola Hotel & Spa, where it will be waiting on the bed in guest rooms. The Portola Hotel & Spa is the city’s only Silver LEED® EB certified hotel, and recently earned the AAA Four Diamond Rating. The full-service hotel offers guests a rich, historical ambiance, with residential style and a dedicated staff to ensure an unparalleled guest experience. The hotel features 379 newly renovated guest rooms adjoining the Monterey Conference Center – the largest conference center on California’s central coast.

”Creating the ‘Made in USA’ plush otter is consistent with SSA’s Eco Mission and its commitment to green product sourcing in Monterey and where possible at its other accounts nationwide,” said SSA’s Monterey General Manager Andrew Fischer.

Fischer chairs SSA’s national Green Team and exports the best practices developed in Monterey to other SSA clients nationwide.

“We’ve learned a lot in our association with the aquarium and we share these valuable tools with sister institutions,” he said.

Kyle Barrett of Stuffington Bear Factory said the relationship with the aquarium and SSA “illustrates how important it is to families and to our economy that visitors can buy American-made toys created by American workers.”

The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.


Portola Hotel & Spa is a full-service hotel that offers guests a rich, historical ambiance, with residential style and a dedicated staff to ensure an unparalleled guest experience. The hotel features 379 nautically inspired guest rooms and suites, ranging from 400 to 1,000 square feet. Inspired by the Monterey Peninsula's surrounding landscape and nautical heritage, all guest rooms feature elegant wood furnishings, large bathrooms with separate vanity areas, white shuttered windows. Many guest rooms offer private balconies with ocean, garden terrace or pool views. In compliance with LEED ® requirements, all guest rooms are non-smoking. Portola Hotel & Spa offers 25 separate conference/banquet rooms, full-service event technology, catering and outdoor function space. With 50,000 square feet of flexible indoor and 60,000 square feet of outside meeting space, the Monterey Conference Center is the largest conference center on the central coast of California.

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Portola Hotel & Spa
Janine M. Chicourrat, Managing Director
(831) 649-7890