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[Photos] Meet Tao Dan Park's 'Squirrel Lady'

You’ve heard stories about Saigon’s famous cat lady, now meet Tao Dan Park’s squirrel lady.

In a recent feature, Bao Moi told the story of 67-year-old Nguyen Thi Lieu’s connection with Tao Dan Park’s family of wild squirrels. According to the news outlet, for the last 20 years Lieu has maintained a fixed schedule: wake up at 4:30am, slice up heaps of fresh bananas and travel to the park to feed her rodent “children”.

“Sometimes it rains so I can’t make it to the park on time,” Lieu told Bao Moi. “My friends have also given up on inviting me to go on vacation because I always refuse, afraid that nobody will take care of the squirrels.”

Her bond with the park’s squirrels and chipmunks began decades ago when she saw them scavenging for food on patches of grass. They couldn’t find anything and had to eat tree bark and dry leaves.

“I was very saddened so I decided to take care of them,” Lieu elaborated. “I knew in my heart that I wanted it to be sustainable in the long run and not a one-time thing. I decided on banana because it’s a very affordable option.”

Feeding these skittish creatures is not a cakewalk, either. She started by putting whole bananas on the ground, but the animals were too scared to stay and finish the entire piece of fruit and only dashed to and fro several times. Therefore, Lieu started cutting the fruit up into pieces small enough for them to drag back to their nest.

Over the years, the critters have grown used to being fed every day and have even invited their friends along for the free meal: she started with just a few kilograms of banana per day, but the figure is now ten kilograms.

When asked when she would stop feeding the squirrels, Lieu said: “Until my health doesn’t allow it.”

[Photos via Bao Moi]