The online crowds — and live Florida audiences — are crazy about a squirrel performing tricks while water-skiing.
Twiggy the waterskiing squirrel’s talents are on full display in the Sunshine State, and crowds can’t seem to get enough of them.
Toni Marie Tedesco, 36, and her husband Chuck Best Jr., 41, teach their talented pet squirrels to water ski and host regular shows to entertain crowds from around the world.
Twiggy, Inc. is actually a family business, and the current Twiggy is the fourth squirrel with that nickname that the Florida couple has taught to water ski.
“Chuck grew up with it because his parents started Twiggy the waterskiing squirrel. I’ve been doing it myself for two years,” Tedesco told Caters News.
Chuck and Lou Ann Best rescued the original Twiggy in 1978 after it was driven from its nest by a hurricane.
The Bests decided on the stage name Twiggy because she used to chew the leaves off of Lou Ann’s houseplants, leaving nothing but twigs.
Since 1979, 11 Twiggys have learned to water ski
“It all started as a joke…” it says on the website.
When Chuck Best bought a remote control boat for her birthday, he quipped that he “should learn to drive the boat so I can teach my squirrel to water ski!”
It wasn’t long before Twiggy’s popularity caught the attention of the press and news outlets, and “the little squirrel was on his way to stardom.”
Best suffered a heart attack and drowned while rescuing his stepfather in 1997, but Lou Ann kept Twiggy going, touring with the third and adapting the gig to focus on water safety.
Lou Ann decided to retire in 2018, nearly ending Twiggy’s adventure and legacy — but Best Jr. and Tedesco decided to continue the show.
Last month, Twiggy performed at the first annual Yuma County Fair Fall Fest in Yuma, Arizona, water-skiing behind a remote-controlled boat, his tiny hands on tiny handlebars.
Tedesco noted that all of their squirrels are rescued—they don’t breed them or take them out of their natural habitat in the wild.
“When we rehabilitate squirrels, they become part of our family and are extremely spoiled and well cared for,” she said of it Daily Mail. “Once you gain the love and trust of an animal, it’s easy!”
A squirrel performing water tricks is definitely a shock, but it turns out that teaching these clever animals isn’t all that difficult.
“We start by getting the squirrels to stand out of the water on their skis, then we walk them in circles in the pool and let them do a lap,” Tedesco explained. “It takes a couple of months and it only takes about five to ten minutes to practice. We don’t force them, it’s something they love to do.”
She added, “Every squirrel has a different personality and if they don’t want to learn to water ski, we’re totally fine with that.”
Twiggy is loved by both children and adults, and Tedesco said they always get “excellent” feedback and compliments after shows, however they have received negative reactions when posting videos on social media.
“Kids are always laughing and cheering, but for me, seeing grown adults fully entertained is the greatest fulfillment,” Tedesco shared.
She believes any negativity stems from people not watching the show or watching previous videos to understand the story behind the waterskiing squirrel.
“The shows we host not only provide the thrill of squirrel waterskiing, but also serve to educate people about water safety, squirrel rescue/rehab and the fact that 100% of the donations we receive , go back to squirrel rehabilitation facilities,” Tedesco said.
The last Twiggy to tour was in two films: Anchorman and Dodgeball.
Twiggy is also now the official spokesperson for the National Safe Boating Council’s “Wear It” water safety campaign.