GREENE COUNTY, AR -- At one time Arkansas was coined "The Bear State" because of the large number of the state's largest mammal. Most of the black bears in the state live in the wild, however Wednesday a pet bear in Greene County was relocated across the state.
Joe the bear is all grown up now, but he started like most exotic pets as a cute fuzzy cub.
"I just thought it would be neat to have him," said Joe's owner Aaron Pugsley.
Pugsley purchased a three month-old Joe not knowing what he was going to get.
"When he wasn't what I thought he would be, I thought I will just make a rug out of him when he gets bigger, but we kind of got attached to him," said Pugsley.
Two and a half years later, Joe is just like another member of the family.
"For the most part, he's just as laid back as a puppy dog," said Pugsley.
Despite Joe's friendly persona, black bears don't make good pets and Pugsley is no longer allowed to keep Joe. Luckily, the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is offering Joe a new home in Eureka Springs.
"For a three year old bear he is a bit small, but besides that it appears he has a real good disposition," Tanya Smith, president of the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.
Tanya Smith is the president of the largest big cat refuge in the world. They give new homes to lions, tigers, bears and other animals not fit as pets.
"It's a problem all over the country. We have rescued from 17 states and if it weren't for the refuge the majority of our animals would be put down," said Smith.
That won't happen to Joe. Moving to this new cage will mean a new life.
"We have candy and bears love those sweets. That made it a little easier to load him," said Smith.
As Joe's new family prepared the trailer for travel, Pugsley fed his old friend candy and told stories of the good times the two had together.
"It's tougher than I thought it was going to be. I am more attached to him than I thought I was," said Pugsley.
While Pugsley is invited to visit Joe whenever he wants, he knows it will never be the same.
If you are interested in visiting Joe the bear at his new home in the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs it is open to the public year round.