A team of New Jersey Turnpike workers trapped a brown bear loose in the parking lot of one of the highway’s rest stops on Monday.
But the carnivore was never a threat to the public. It was a lost teddy bear.
First reported by NJ Advance Media, New City, N.Y. resident Julissa Viana was traveling to the Outer Banks in North Carolina last weekend with her husband and young son, Alex.
The family stopped at the Clara Barton Service Area between exits 1 and 2 near the southern end of the Turnpike so Viana and her husband could swap driving duties. Somewhere in the shuffle, the stuffed brown mammal fell onto the pavement.
The family didn’t realize they had lost the bear until they arrived in N.C., when Viana, a social media professional, fired off a plea for help on Twitter.
“Lost: my son’s beloved #TeddyBear. Please help! Lost on sb @njturnpike #reststop-we think Walt Whitman lot,” she said.
Little time passed before staff at the N.J. Turnpike responded to Viana on Twitter and launched a rescue mission to retrieve the bear.
“I told them exactly sort of where we thought we dropped it, and within maybe an hour or so they said they think they found him,” said Viana. “And then they sent us a picture on Twitter. And it lo and behold was the bear.”
Turnpike spokesman Tom Feeney, who spotted Viana’s tweet, said tracking down the boy’s teddy was all in a day’s work for highway staff.
“You know, the people here do this kind of stuff every day,” said Feeney. “This just happened to sort of play out on Twitter, so I think it got more attention than the typical patron services we perform.”
Turnpike staff are mailing the fluffy carnivore back to the family’s N.Y. home.