62-year-old Bonnie Hart from Texas is no ordinary grandma – she keeps two grizzly bears and a white tiger in her back garden!
With a combined weight of over 600lb, bears Pebbles and Bam-Bam have lived with Bonnie ever since they were very young. And 6-year-old white Bengal tiger Anuskha was given to her as a gift when she was just a cub.
Surprisingly, it was one of Bonnie’s dogs that first brought the bears into her home.
‘I’m sitting on the porch, drinking coffee one morning, and I look out there by the pond and here comes my black dog, trotting across, and right behind him is two little black things following him. I thought they were other dogs, and as they got closer I went, ‘Holy moley! They’re bears!’.’
And the threesome have been firm friends ever since! Bonnie spends her days playing with her beloved bears and feeding them sweet treats including their favourites – marshmallows and honey!
‘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. And they will almost mug you for honey!’
Whilst the bears are fighting over their sugary snacks, tiger Anushka enjoys a very meaty diet, eating around 14 and 20lb of raw pork, beef and chicken every day. As you can imagine, caring for her unusual pets doesn’t come cheap and Bonnie estimates that she spends around $1,000 – $1,500 a month just feeding them.
But despite her close bond with her bears and tiger, and the fact that she lets her grandchildren interact with them, Bonnie is well aware of just how dangerous they can be.
‘I have tranquiliser guns so we can tranquilise them if we have to. Nobody is going to get hurt, not unless you just climb into the pen and be stupid.’
‘Pebbles can get a little cantankerous at times and she’s slapped me with her claws and has bit at me a couple of times – but nothing like attack me.’
‘I have a taser, but I only have that if I’m outside by myself and I can’t get help.’
Bonnie often invites her neighbours and their families over to meet the animals – but what would she do if anyone tried to steal them from her?
‘I would shoot them, point blank. If someone came on my property and tried to take my animals I don’t care if it’s tigers, bears, horses or dogs – somebody is gonna get shot!’
‘There isn’t one out here that I don’t care for. It has changed me – I mean I have been doing this since I was a little girl. It makes you have responsibility, it makes you realise that life is precious and you should enjoy every moment of it.’
One thing is for sure – Bonnie is one fierce grandma!