2015 X Games Austin

Famous Water-Skiing Squirrel Hangs Up Skis

A long-running rodent show is coming to a close.

For 39 years, a series of well-trained squirrels have been showing audiences what a rodent can really do. But now that's coming to an end: Lou Ann Best, the human behind the road show featuring Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, says she's closing up shop after their most recent appearance in Minneapolis. Best and her squirrels have made thousands of appearances over the years, delighting audiences and teaching water safety to kids. “It’s very hard to stop because Twiggy makes a difference,” she told local Florida station WTSP. Here, a look back at Twiggy through the years. Above: Twiggy performs at the X Games in Austin in 2015.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images HUMBLE BEGINNINGS In 1978, Lou Ann and her husband Chuck, who ran a skating rink in Florida, trained their first squirrel, an orphan rescued by a friend. Chuck carved skis out of Styrofoam, and they started slow in a bathtub before moving to a nearby lake. As people caught wind of their feat, they started getting invites to perform at R.V. shows, boat shows, and other conventions. So the next year, they sold the rink and hit the road with Twiggy and her remote-controlled boat. Above: Twiggy at a Toronto boat show in 1982. TWIGGY AT REST The Washington Post/Washington Post/Getty Images TWIGGY AT REST In Lou Ann's mobile home in 2003. Squirrels live short lives, so there's been a series of Twiggys over the years. According to WTSP, the current squirrel is Twiggy No. 8 and is 10 years old.

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GREATER PURPOSE TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images GREATER PURPOSE Tragedy struck when Chuck drowned in a boating accident in 1997. Devastated, Lou Ann told the Washington Post that she eventually found a a higher purpose to carry on with the Twiggy show, using it as a platform to teach water safety to kids in the audience. (In recent years, the Twiggys have worn a tiny life jacket.) "I believe with all my heart and soul this was the Lord’s purpose," Lou Ann said. "I do these water park shows all the time, and little kids will run up to me and say: 'I just want to tell you, I went out there and learned to float, just like Twiggy said.'" Above: Twiggy at the New York Boat Show in 2002. STAR TURNS James Devaney/WireImage STAR TURNS Over the years, Twiggy has shown up on "The Late Show With David Letterman" (above) and made appearances in "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and the Brad Paisley video "River Bank." AT THE HELM James Devaney/WireImage AT THE HELM Another shot from the Letterman appearance in 2004.



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Gary Miller/Getty Images Rick Kern/WireImage CHECKING THE SKIS Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images CHECKING THE SKIS The current Twiggy at the Toronto Boat Show earlier this year. RIDING INTO THE SUNSET Rick Kern/WireImage RIDING INTO THE SUNSET Lou Ann told WTSP that she and Twiggy have retired to a 55-plus community in Florida, where they're already a hit with other residents. "They come by in their golf carts, ‘Are you the squirrel lady? Is this where Twiggy lives?'" she said. WATCH TWIGGY GOFootage of a 1995 show.



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