The annual Yuma County Fair Fall Fest was a big hit this year, thanks in large part to the star attraction: waterskiing squirrels! Daniel Joshua Wolverton recorded a video in Yuma, Arizona of two squirrels showing off their waterskiing skills while wearing mini lifejackets. “This is the squirrel water show of @twiggysinc. This was the finale of their performance at the Yuma County Fair,” Wolverton explained to Storyful.
Twiggy the Water-Skiing Squirrel is a famous animal novelty act that features a squirrel skiing around a heated pool. The act was created in 1979 by Chuck and Lou Ann Best and made its debut on the television show Real People. Since then, it has been featured on numerous other TV shows, newspaper articles, and websites.
The Bests, who live in Sanford, Florida, raised an orphaned squirrel as a family pet after Hurricane David. Twiggy would ride on their shoulders and even accompany them when they went swimming in the pool. One day, Chuck’s daughter asked to play with the remote-controlled boat that he had bought her. Chuck jokingly said that he needed to teach Twiggy how to water-ski first. However, soon enough they were taking the joke seriously. They began teaching Twiggy how to water-ski without any intention of publicizing it.
Several gray squirrels take turns playing the part of Twiggy. When they retire, they live with their trainer as family pets. To prepare for their movie sequences, the animals practice riding on blocks of buoyant foam while being towed behind a remote-controlled boat.
Twiggy the Waterskiing Squirrel keeps going strong
In addition to films like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Twiggy has also been in the TV movie Down to Earth, as well as the animated films Megamindand music video for Brad Paisley’s “River Bank”. The business is owned and operated by Chuck Best Jr., son of Chuck and Lou Ann. To celebrate the 40th Anniversary, he has added Twig Jr and Roxie the Lifeguard to the show.
Lou Ann Best and Twiggy gave their final performance in 2018 before ending their act. The act was taken up again by the couple’s son Chuck Best Jr., who has performed it at the Toronto International Boat Show, Vancouver International Boat Show, as well as American boat shows in 2020.
Squirrels were once considered popular pets in America. Slowly but surely, public opinion on squirrels turned from admiration to loathing. By the 1910s they had become full-blown pests in California. So much so that the state issued a widespread attack on them. From the 1920s through 1970 many states slowly adopted laws prohibiting people from keeping exotic pets like squirrels. Nowadays, experts will tell you that while squirreling away a squirrel might sound fun, they do not always make ideal pets—their diet is finicky and their claws are sharp!