Does a Bear Shit in the Woods?

Huggzyboo (1930-2006) never did. Now he's dead.

Huggzyboo was a show bear. He could balance large plastic balls on his head and play the ukulele. What he couldn't do was shit in the woods. For this, he was ostracized by his fellow bears; and on Dec. 30, he died of constipation at the age of 76 (in bear years).

Simply put, Huggzyboo preferred to defecate in Wal-Mart parking lots. When he was on the road, playing solo gigs in zoo amphitheaters in between circus hitches, this was fine. So popular was Huggzyboo with Wal-Mart staff in Tallahassee, for instance, that they actually drew straws to see who would get to shovel Huggzyboo's shit. Huggzyboo would then reward their diligence by playing a bluegrass version of Toto's "Africa" on his ukulele.

After 40 years on the road, his owner, a South Carolinian named Sam Peckinpaw, made a mistake that some of Huggzyboo's fans believe triggered the digestive condition that eventually led to his death. Peckinpaw released Huggzyboo into the Canadian wilds—specifically, a remote mountain region in North Ontario known for the ruggedness of its bear population. He did this with the best intentions, thinking that allowing a bear to retire in his native habitat was the most humane of practices. But by that point, Huggzyboo had become far too domesticated and could never win with the North Ontario bears, most of whom went by ultramasculine names like Thor, Bunyan, and Igor. For starters, his name was Huggzyboo—so they teased him relentlessly. Plus, there wasn't a Wal-Mart to be found for miles.

Predictably, Huggzyboo began suffering from chronic constipation. When he would shit in the woods, it was in his sleep, which only compounded the constant stream of guff he got from other bears in the area. Fed up, Huggzyboo set out on his own to find the nearest Wal-Mart parking lot—even if it killed him. Ultimately, it did: Huggzyboo's lungs became so filled with improperly digested fish that they collapsed, suffocating and killing the talented, helpless bear 100 miles outside of Toronto. He is survived by his sister, Flobo, and a stepbrother, Bobo, both of whom live in Uruguay.

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