WILMINGTON – She’s cute, she swims and she water skis.
Twiggy the world-famous water-skiing squirrel has come to Wilmington. The female squirrel will be featured in the inaugural Wilmington Boat Show, set to run in downtown Wilmington and across the Cape Fear River at Battleship Park, Sept. 9-11.
On Thursday, the female rodent did a test run in “Twiggy’s Lagoon” ahead of many performances scheduled this weekend. She’ll be skiing in the pool set up on the lawn of Battleship Park.
Lou Ann Best, “Twiggy’s mom” and trainer, said the squirrel is the seventh she has trained since the skiing performances began in 1979. The first Twiggy came to Best after a rain storm. When her husband started playing with their daughter’s birthday gift — a remote-controlled toy boat — more than she did, Best said he got the idea to teach the squirrel to water ski with it.
Fun fact: Twiggy’s life jacket is made from a koozie. She wears it at all her performances.
“We taught her as a joke. The news media got a hold of it and it went crazy on national television,” Best said.
It was after the national attention, when Best began to receive calls from people wanting shows. Since then, Best has traveled with her trained squirrels for performances all over the country and has traveled for many international shows in other countries such as Canada, France and Germany.
Twiggy has also been on several national television shows, including The David Letterman Show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and America’s Got Talent.
But the focus of Twiggy’s performances somewhat changed after Best’s husband died in a boating accident while trying to save his stepfather from drowning. With a little encouragement after her husband’s death, Best said she got back on the road with a mission to promote water and boating safety to try to make a difference in someone’s life.
As part of Twiggy performance, Best uses her trained pet to encourage children be safe out on the water, as well as the importance of wearing life jackets and take swimming lessons.
“That’s the magic of the whole thing. Because I teach kids how to float in the show. They hear Twiggy,” Best said.
Twiggy’s performances will run at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday; and 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The Wilmington Boat Show spans over several locations in the Port City, including Pier 33, Port City Marina, the Wilmington Convention Center and Battleship Park. More than 80 different boat styles will be on display, including skiffs, cruisers, sailboats, fishing boats and yachts.
The event offers a water taxi across the Cape Fear River for attendees to have easy access to all venues and features food and family-friendly activities.
— Christina Haley (@TinaHaley8) September 8, 2016