A bear named Gigi

It was called Tiger Bar and Grill.

Besides the booze, the draw was a pair of Bengal tigers sitting on a small slab across from the bar.

It is hard to imagine that at some point, this was considered a good idea but it had been open for several years and by the amount of bottles in the trash can outside, they had a few patrons.

Our mission was to rescue a young black bear illegally imported into Texas and being kept in the bar.

The author at age 21 with his cousin Frank Moore giving “Gigi” her last Twinkie of the night. (Photo by Gerald Burleigh)

A game warden had contacted Monique Woodard of the Exotic Cat & Wildlife Refuge in Kirbyville, TX to see if she would take the bear and she got my frequent cohort and wildlife photographer Gerald Burleigh and I to come along.

My job was to dart the bear if it got belligerent so we could put it in the crate to ride to Kirbyville in the back of my truck. Gerald was thereto document the day with his unique style of photography.

The tigers despite being in a small area looked healthy but the bear on the other hand was quite scruffy. Weighing about 80 pounds, she was probably around six months old and despite her small size she could have taken out all of us. Bears are extremely powerful.

We walked up to the enclosure and the bear stood up on its hind legs.

Before risking darting the animal, we put the extra large pet porter next to the door of the cage and Monique reached into her bag and pulled out a Twinkie.

Gigi getting a drink in her new enclosure (Photo by Gerald Burleigh)

She held it up to the nose of the bear which at this point was standing at the door and she had me open it. She then threw the Twinkie into the porter and the bear went right in.

Easy enough.

On the way home, somewhere around Baytown on Interstate 10, the bear which at this point had been named “Gigi” pounded on the bed of my truck.

We pulled over to see what was wrong and Monique said she was hungry so she gave her a few more Twinkies from the box.

This happened three more times before getting to Kirbyville where she had the very last Twinkie in her big new enclosure.

Gigi was a real treat and ended up being a big draw to the refuge and a gigantic blessing to our lives.

Chester Moore, Jr.

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