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Because it was either this or keep watching Sangelica drink alone.

Recently we rolled into the office to find RocketNews24’s resident giant teddy bear, Sangelica (a.k.a. Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun), drowning her sorrows with sake.

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When we asked Sangelica why she was hitting the bottle so hard, she told us she’d been feeling incredibly lonely. Sure, plenty of people smiled and waved from afar during her Starbucks coffee run and day out at Ueno Park, but she hadn’t made an honest-to-goodness friend on either of those excursions. With the rest of our staff so busy with work, we haven’t had much time to play with her, and all the time alone had her feeling pretty bummed out.

“I want to make some friends!” she sobbed between long pulls on the rapidly emptying container of sake, and since the only thing worse than a drunk bear is a drunk and unhappy bear, we offered to take her out to try to make some new acquaintances. Thinking she’d find it easiest to hit it off with someone she has a lot in common with, we decided to head to Costco in Kawasaki, since we remembered spotting some giant teddy bears in the toy section during our last trip to the U.S.-based warehouse club.

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So we hopped into our car, with fellow reporter Yoshio at the wheel. At first, everything was going great, and Sangelica happily chattered on about how if she did make a friend at Costco, they were totally going to Disneyland together on their next play date. We chuckled at her girlish enthusiasm, but suddenly our laughter was interrupted by the wail of a police siren, and an officer ordering us to pull over through his patrol car’s loudspeaker.

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If you ever get pulled over for running a stop sign in Japan, be respectful to the officer when he comes over to write your ticket, especially if you have one of your coworkers dressed up in a giant bear suit in the back seat.

▼ It would be so easy to mistake this for a kidnapping.

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After our encounter with the police officer, we drove on in silence as Yoshio reflected on his vehicular transgression. Thankfully, we made it to Costco with no further incident, and having arrived at our destination had Sangelica’s eyes shining with anticipation (or perhaps by virtue of being made of plastic).

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Excited by the prospect of finally making a friend, Sangelica rushed straight for the toy department. She didn’t even stop for a delicious bulgogi bake or to pick up a jumbo pack of honey.

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But Costco isn’t just full of bulk-sized bargains. It’s also full of surprises, and it turned out that on the day we visited, the store was all sold out of Sangelica’s closest kin, giant brown teddy bears. What the stuffed animal corner did have, though, was pandas!

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“Frieeeeeeends!”

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After a quick snuggle test, Sangelica confirmed that, yes, she and the pandas could become pals. And what better way to kick off a new friendship than by throwing your buddies in a cart and taking them for a spin around the store?

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Since they’d hit it off so nicely, we decided to open our hearts (and wallets) and bought as many pandas as we could fit in the car to take back with us.

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▼ Say good-bye to Costco, pandas! Next stop: your new home, RocketNews24 HQ!

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Sangelica and her panda pals are getting along great, and RocketNews24’s human staff also appreciates having a little extra cuteness in our workspace. All in all, it’s a happy ending for everyone.

▼ Well, except for Yoshio, but still, we say paying a traffic fine is worth it for this.

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