A three-legged black bear wandered onto the patio of a house in Florida. He trudged along the edge of the pool. He approached an aquarium and gnawed on a container full of guppy food. Then he reached for the refrigerator, grabbed two cans of White Claw hard seltzer, and threw in a third.
It was a typical day in the Magnolia Plantation neighborhood — a subdivision of about 500 homes in Lake Mary, just north of Orlando — where the three-legged bear makes his home so often that residents have given a name befitting a creature with just a trio of limbs: a tripod.
“I wouldn’t say he was the worst guest, because he was,” said Josaury Faneite-Diglio, whose yard was littered on Sunday with rubbish left by Tripod as the trash of an uninvited reveler. “He has a special place for the residents of Magnolia Plantation.”
People who live in central Florida and other parts of the state have grown accustomed to visits from wild animals that roam, like bears and deer, or slither, like snakes, through yards. , challenging the artificial concept of property limits imposed on adjacent land. reserves and forests.
“Bears come in and out of our community. We have learned to live with them,” said Margaret Summers, realtor at Magnolia Plantation.
Other bears have made their way into the gated community, but only Tripod has achieved local notoriety. It is easy to identify, moving heavily on two hind legs and a single upper limb.
On a community Facebook page, residents share their sightings of Tripod and its foraging exploits. He invaded the garages and took the leaves from the banana trees. They watch his weight with concern and one woman even wished he stopped in her street. Residents have adapted to bears by reinforcing their screen doors with plexiglass.
“I should buy screen repair stocks as much as these guys are invading my pool,” one person wrote of the community bears.
“Dude is a real celebrity!” wrote another resident after Tripod’s visit to the Faneite-Diglio residence was reported by news channels.
Around 5 p.m. on Sunday, 13-year-old Joseph Diglio was watching television when Bruno, the family’s terrier, spotted the bear and started barking. The boy jumped to his feet, panicked that the bear might break in through the glass doors, and recorded a video which was widely shared.
“There’s no food in there, buddy,” Joseph said as Tripod rummaged through the patio cooler.
At the same time, Ms Faneite-Diglio was returning home from the grocery store when she received a security camera notification indicating movement on her property. On the terrace, Tripod had clenched the container of shrimp meal intended for the family’s guppies between his teeth before heading for the outdoor bar.
“I found all the cabinets in my bar open and I found the small refrigerator open,” she said. “And three White Claws on the ground. He opened the refrigerator door and took out the mango and the strawberry.
Unexpected visitors of the creeping, creeping, creeping kind are a part of Florida life. Burmese pythons, Argentine lizards, alligators, peacocks, tree frogs and spiny-tailed iguanas invade the gardens, splash around in the swimming pools and jostle the garbage cans. Bears and deer roam the porches and roam the garages. Ms. Faneite-Diglio’s home has been visited at least three times by bears, one of which ran off with a roll of cookie dough.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates there are about 4,000 black bears in the state, with most concentrated in the central region. As communities with a population of 21 million grow, they are encroaching or fragmenting bear habitats.
“They’ll be coming out of the woods looking for food,” said Mike Orlando, the commission’s bear management program coordinator. “It’s hard to blame them. We advance and the bears fight back.
In 2014, after a Lake Mary woman was mauled in her garage, several bears that appeared habituated and dangerous to humans were shot, according to local media. In 2015, a bear hunt intended to curb the population drew criticism.
The commission regularly publishes advice on how to live in harmony, or at least without conflict, with bears. Feeding them is illegal, and residents are urged to use bear-resistant trash cans and avoid unintentionally attracting bears by keeping pet food inside their homes.
It’s also a good idea to knock on your door and turn the lights on and off before letting the animals out. Grids must be kept clean. And beware of the season: At this time of year, bears are looking to consume up to 20,000 calories a day to prepare for winter and food shortages, Orlando said.
Residents sometimes call the commission to report a bear sighting, although Mr Orlando said this was not necessary in most cases, such as if a bear is in a tree or wandering around looking for food .
Tripod’s apparent fondness for mango-strawberry booze wasn’t entirely unusual. “The bears are going to test everything,” Orlando said. “He’s probably bitten into a tin can before and realized there was something inside. In this case, he targeted a fridge with White Claw and apparently he liked the flavor and drank them.
Mr Orlando said other three-legged bears had been sighted in Florida. Sometimes they are hit by cars, causing them serious injuries and eventually falling, he said.
But that didn’t stop the Magnolia Plantation Tripod, which Orlando has known for nearly 10 years and weighs up to 300 pounds, from doing what a bear does.
“During the breeding season, he was hanging out with a female,” Orlando said. “He does things a little slower than the other bears but he’s still a bear. For the most part, he was, for lack of a better term, a good bear.
Ms. Summers, the estate agent, was showing a potential buyer a house in Magnolia Plantation on Thursday when a bear crossed the dead end in front of them. His client was unfazed. “People are used to it here,” she says. “It’s not a rare sight.”