Cocoro (which is the roman characters that they use to write it) - is literally a 'heart' animal, since cocoro means 'heart'. It's not a sheep, but they sometimes call it a 'cocoro bear' ... it's... a unique animal, is what I'd say.
I totally love mine, lol. She's probably one of my most fav build-a-bears. (I have a tiny stuffed keychain plushie that matches my cocoro as well, because omg cute.)
Nope, not a single exclusive japanese animal is on bearville -- now, if they are also in australia, then they are (so things like cocoro are not in bearville, but year of the horse... in theory... will be... eventually...).
The certificates are all in japanese and are the 'old' style that was used before the bearville codes were placed on the bottom. I have a bunch, lol. XD
No communication between the players in the bear valley game - so no need for moderation. No chatting, no bear mail - you don't even know if anyone else even plays it, lol. It's just your bears wandering around - you don't even have an avatar. It's cute and all, with a bit nicer graphics than the bearville game, but it's not quite the same thing to me. (Where is my house?! lol.)
The bears on my profile are both from japan - and the only way to get them was to go to japan (I can't remember if they still had the brown one - cocoro - when I was there last... but I know the pink one is gone because that was a limited edition sakura teddy from ages ago, and they change those every year)... I think some people have friends in japan that also send them, but that's just about as rare as going there, lol.
I'm answering you on your VM instead of on the smallfrys thread so that hopefully the thread will be closed instead.
Bear Buddies - New versions that are like smallfrys but meant to be a little 'buddy' to the big bears / big kids. They're pretty cute, because they're very very much like smallfrys.
Bear Valley App - the reason they've put money into this new game instead is due to the fact that they don't have to moderate the interactions between players. A lot of the bearville resources are being spent on 'policing' the people -- words you can't say, being mean, trying to do things that you're not supposed to, etc. in bearville. It is a very large headache for build-a-bear and basically a whole bunch of rotten apples have spoiled it for the rest of us. This is why codes have disappeared, etc. Making a 'safe place' when so many people are determined to abuse it is a losing battle.