A Texas Woman Who Loves Exotic Animals Has Taken In A White Tiger And Two Grizzly Bears

Image: YouTube/Barcroft Animals

As a tiger owner, Bonnie Hart has never feared exotic animals. However, when pet dog was followed home one day by a couple of daunting creatures, even she was shocked. And what the grandmother did next was completely extraordinary.

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Bonnie Hart is Texas resident who works as a truck driver. When she’s not out on the road the grandmother-of-four enjoys spending time with her animals. However, some of her four-legged friends are hardly your typical pets.

Image: YouTube/Barcroft Animals

That’s because, in 2012, Hart acquired a white tiger named Anushka from a friend. The big cats are a kind of Bengal tiger which are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. But while protecting the species is important, taking them into your own home is not advised.

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Not only are tigers extremely expensive to keep, but they pose a very real threat to people. In the 25 years between 1990 and 2015 domestic big cats in the United States injured 54 people and killed eight. But despite these worrying figures, there are still thought to be more pet tigers in America than in the wild forests of Russia and Asia.

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Despite the risks associated with keeping big cats, Hart believed that she had a special relationship with her tiger. “Me and Anushka, I’m mama and she’s baby, and I can hand feed her and pat her,” Hart told the Barcroft Animals YouTube channel in 2016. “I can do whatever I want with her.”

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However, despite her apparent bond with the tiger, you would be forgiven for thinking that Hart had her hands full caring for Anushka on top of her dogs. With that in mind, you’d expect the grandmother to be off the market when it came to taking on more animals. But that simply wasn’t the case.

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Not long after Anushka had become part of the family, one of Hart’s dogs had been out wandering. When the canine returned, the grandmother of four could see that it was being followed. At first she believed that the creatures in tow were two other dogs, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

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Explaining what she had seen, Hart revealed, “I’m sitting on the porch drinking coffee one morning, and I look out there by the pond and here comes my black dog just a-trotting, and right behind him there’s two little black things following.”

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The animals were in fact two grizzly bear babies. However, that didn’t worry Hart. So instead of alerting animal control, or whatever you’re meant to do when you find carnivorous cubs on your property, the grandmother welcomed the pair into her family.

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Hart took the bears on as her pets and raised them in her backyard. She named the animals Pebbles and Bam-Bam, and a few years down the line the grizzlies had made themselves well and truly at home. But with a total weight of more than 600 pounds, the bears weren’t exactly the easiest animals to keep.

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The truck driver admitted, “They are exotic, they are dangerous animals.” But she added, “These bears have been around a lot of people. They don’t know the tricks; they don’t know sit, lie down or whatever, but you can get in there and you can love on them and you can pat them. I’ve socialized them a lot.”

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Looking after her three exotic animals doesn’t come cheap. According to Hart, she spends around $1,500 on food for Anushka, Pebbles and Bam-Bam each month. The tiger alone consumes 20 pounds of meat a day, while the bears chomp through all kinds of treats.

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Giving us an insight into Pebbles and Bam-Bam’s tastes, Hart revealed, “I’ve tried fish, I’ve tried salmon, they don’t want it. They want their berries, their watermelons, their cantaloupes, their candy. They love cookies, marshmallows. They love anything that’s sweet.”

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Despite the grandmother’s closeness with her animals, Hart cannot escape how dangerous they are. As a result, she keeps a tranquilizer gun in case their behavior gets out of control. But she added, “I only have that if I’m out here by myself and I can’t get help.”

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However, that’s not to say that the creatures never show aggression. “Pebbles can get a little cantankerous at times,” Hart admitted. “She’s slapped me with her claws and has bit at me a couple of times, but nothing like attacked me.”

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For the most part though, Hart says that she rarely worries about her pets lashing out. “No one’s going to get hurt, not unless you just climb into the pen and be stupid,” she said. In fact, Hart has so much faith in her exotic animals that she even allows her grandchildren to interact with them.

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Hart’s granddaughter, Clara Herrmann, when asked about her grandmother’s unusual pets confessed, “I feel safe here but inside the pen I do not feel safe. I think it’s a little bit crazy that she likes having tigers and bears.” However, it seemed some of Hart’s relatives did see the attraction.

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Another granddaughter, Raeanne Herrmann said, “I think it’s really cool. I mean, definitely a different experience. Bears are my favorite animals overall. I don’t go in the tiger pen because, you know, it’s a tiger.”

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And Raeanne isn’t the only exotic animal fan. Each summer Hart opens up her property and invites her friends to meet Anushka, Pebbles and Bam-Bam. “My neighbors, they love it. They bring their families over,” she revealed. However, she added that if anyone ever tried to steal her animals, she would, “Shoot them, point blank.”

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Overall, Hart claimed keeping exotic animals had had a huge effect on her life. “It has changed me, I mean I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl and it makes you have responsibility. It makes you realize that life is precious and that you should enjoy every moment of it,” she said.

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