It was a depressing sight: a giant novelty teddy bear, abandoned and slumped against an airport rubbish bin.

The image was posted on Instagram by the US Transportation Security Administration as a warning to those hoping to travel with enormous soft toys.

"He was abandoned by his owners at LAX after the airline and TSA determined that he was just too big to be screened as a carry-on and taken on the plane," the post read.

"If you see this wayward bear strolling the streets of LA, please feel free to feed him," the agency added.

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While many assumed a child had been left distraught after the incident, the TSA later revealed the truth: the down-and-out bear was owned by a YouTube prankster.

"After watching a Youtube video posted by the traveler, we've learned that he's a popular YouTuber and this was a stunt to see if he could get the giant bear on the plane," the TSA said in an update. "He even made up a back story that the bear was a gift for his girlfriend."

While the traveller had actually purchased a ticket for the bear, the TSA decided it was too big to screen but gave him the option of sending teddy as checked luggage.

"The traveler opted not to check the bear and left it behind," said the TSA.

In the YouTube video by Jake Paul, the prankster can be seen arguing with security and police about the giant teddy named Brodie - who even has his own Instagram account.

SEE!!! My BFF @jakepaul bought me my own seat.🐻

A post shared by Brodie da Bear (@brodiedabear) on

"There's a 50 per cent chance that we lose him," Paul said at the beginning. "I'm kind of nervous, to be real".

- nzherald.co.nz