The friendship between an 82-year-old man and a creature might be an unusual one, but it actually makes perfect sense.
Tim Jones has worked in zoos for a large portion of his life and is even a director of the Cameron Park Zoo- so when he went into retirement, he wasn’t quite ready to give up a life surrounded by animals.
The animal lover owns his very own private pond, which is home to a water snake Tim has fondly nicknamed Big Bertha. The pair enjoy spending time together, and Tim’s experience with animals means that he never feels in any kind of danger.
Tim was happy to show off his pond to a local news broadcaster, where he explained how he had met Big Bertha in the first place.
“I love water, and I love what’s around the pond: frogs, toads, turtles, snakes…” Tim told KCENNews.
It was five years ago when Tim began spending more time relaxing down by his pond. Tim loves to fish, and since many wild animals like to eat the fish, it wasn’t long before he had drawn quite a crowd.
One reptile who often showed her face was Big Bertha the water snake. Enticed by the scent of Tim’s catches, she has been visiting him regularly to see if she can steal a bite to eat.
“I don’t name animals usually, but there’s something about her that got me calling her Big Bertha,” Tim explained. “And then I though perhaps Bertha May sounds better.”
The first time that Tim encountered a local reptile, it took him by surprise.
“A snake came from underneath, came up real slow and took a fish out of my hand. I just about passed out,” he recalled.
As soon as Tim got used to the local reptiles, he was kind enough to share his catches with every animal. He’s even lets some of the creatures come incredibly close to him.
However, while Tim knows that the snakes aren’t a danger, he still draws the line at letting Bertha May get too close- much to her dismay!
“She’d come right up my leg and take a fish, she’d come onto my lap if I let her,” he said. “They have got little teeth that are sharp (about 160 of them) and they hurt when they bite.”
The water snakes found in North America are non-venomous, and they normally won’t show aggression unless they feel to be in danger. However, they still have sharp teeth that could cause some damage, so it’s best to air on the side of caution.
These snakes are often confused with water moccasin snakes since they have similar markings.
Water moccasin snakes are venomous with a dangerous bite, so it’s lucky that Tim is a real snake expert who is able to confidently tell the two types of species apart.
Tim’s interview was shared onto YouTube back in 2019, and since being posted it has received love from viewers all over the world.
“We need more stories & people just like this!” One person commented. “He’s handicapped, but he doesn’t really seem to let it bother him & I feel like he’s really nice. He deserves an off-road scooter so he can go see Bertha & other friends easier.”
Another added: “Friendship knows no boundaries, there is no such word as “unlikely” in friendship.”
A final person said, “I just hope my life is this wonderful when I’m that age. He’s adorable.”
We have to agree! Watch Tim’s sweet interview down below.
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