KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Cindy Kitts, of Knoxville, was sitting in her car, windows down and on her phone, waiting for her family to come out of the Parkside Grill restaurant in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. However, while waiting, she noticed a bear looking through her window.
“All of a sudden I looked up and out of the hillside came this figure,” Kitts said.
She didn’t know that she was about to have a once-in-a-lifetime encounter until the bear approached her vehicle.
“The next thing I know, I look over and here he is in the window, and I’m like, ‘Oh, hi,'” Kitts said.
She was able to snap two photos in a few seconds while the bear was there.
“I just sat there very quietly and very calmly, and the next thing I know, he just jumps down and wanders off,” Kitts said.
She suspected that the bear was looking for food and was grateful she didn’t have any to spare in her vehicle. Although Kitts said it was a cute moment, she remained on high alert and stayed calm.
In that instance, she didn’t feel threatened.
“Had I felt threatened, I definitely would have started the car and rolled the window up,” she said.
Kitts wanted to remind people to never interact with a bear.
“If you have a bear approach you, and you feel threatened by the bear, please, please don’t reach out to pet the bear; don’t feed it food, don’t do anything like that,” she said. “If it sounds aggressive, scream, make yourself bigger than what the bear is.”
In this case, it was a picture-perfect moment that Kitts will always remember.
“It’s something I won’t forget. I just thought to myself I will never have an opportunity like that pop up again — literally pop up again,” she said.
Once it left, Kitts said she started the car and was ready to take action just in case the bear wanted to return.
The National Park Service of Tennessee does provide advice on what to do if someone encounters a bear. The information advised people to remain watchful, not to approach the bear, not to allow the bear to approach you, and if a bear is at a distance and continues its natural behavior, observe from a distance.