A Newfoundland RCMP officer says she's astonished to see that a chance yet utterly cute encounter with a bear cub almost three years ago has inspired a web-based comic that has found an international audience.
"When I first saw them, I couldn't believe them," Const. Suzanne Bourque told CBC News on Friday, describing how she had only a day before learned of a comic called Miss Officer and Mr. Truffles.
"I think they're quite, quite cute."
This is the second time Bourque has been at the heart of an internet sensation.
In June 2011, a photograph of Bourque — seen taking a photo of a little bear cub at her feet, in a parking lot at Terra Nova National Park — was widely shared.
Unknown to Bourque until now, the encounter inspired a teenage artist named Ami, who goes by the internet handle of Lemonteaflower and who shares her work on Tumblr, the micro-blogging platform.
Miss Officer and Mr. Truffles features a police officer who resembles Bourque, and a bear cub as her sidekick.
"I thought they had made a mistake," Bourque told CBC News, describing her reaction when she was told about the strip.
"When I saw them, I died. I couldn't get over it."
Miss Officer and Mr. Truffles has also sparked a fan to turn it into a short animation, with the characters grooving wildly to Wannabe, the 1996 smash hit by the Spice Girls.
The video was posted to YouTube on Tuesday, and by Friday morning had been seen more than 30,000 times.
"I died when I heard that and I saw the clip on YouTube, because unbeknownst probably to the artist, I was quite the fan of Spice Girls growing up," Bourque said.
Bear 'a comfortable little guy'
Bourque was stationed at the RCMP's detachment in Glovertown when she encountered the bear. She said she was called to Terra Nova National Park when officials became worried about a young cub approaching patrons.
After she sounded her siren to scare the bear away, she spoke with visitors who said the cub was known to return quickly.
"As I'm [speaking with them], I feel him brush against my leg. I thought, 'My god, he's a comfortable little guy,'" Bourque said.
The bear was later caught and released.
Bourque was subsequently transferred to another detachment, in Whitbourne.
She does not know what became of the bear. She is pretty sure that a bear in the area that was later euthanized was not the one that has twice attracted great notice on the web.