Bear Named 'Meatball' Captured, Moved to San Diego

Black bear rose to celebrity-status in Los Angeles before his capture

By Olsen Ebright and Lauren Steussy
|  Thursday, Aug 30, 2012  |  Updated 1:37 PM PDT
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Bear Named 'Meatball' in San Diego

Meatball, pictured here, is resting comfortably in his temporary habitat in Alpine at the Lions Tigers and Bears sanctuary.

A popular black bear with a penchant for junk food has arrived in San Diego after his capture in the San Gabriel foothills in Los Angeles.

There were more than a dozen possible sightings of "Meatball" the bear since March, and Wednesday marked the third time since April the California Department of Fish and Game has trapped the animal.

"Meatball" arrived safely at the Lions, Tigers and Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine, according to the non-profit that houses unwanted and abused exotic animals. After a brief stay in the East County sanctuary, "Meatball" will be relocated to another sanctuary in Colorado.

The non-profit said on Thursday that "Meatball" (pictured right) is enjoying his new setting and resting comfortably.

As far as bear celebrities go, "Meatball" (or "Glen Bearian") is one of the biggest names in Southern California. A Twitter account dedicated to the animal, @TheGlendaleBear, has more than 28,000 followers. During one sighting in April, "Crescenta" was a local trending topic on Twitter.

There are even "Meatball" the bear pins and T-shirts (most sizes nearly sold out).

In the end, it was "Meatball's" love of junk food that led to his downfall. The animal had become quite comfortable around humans and knew a good trash can when he smelled one.

After the animal was spotted early Wednesday in the 5000 block of Ocean View Boulevard in La Canada Flintridge, officials decided to set up a trap, DFG spokesman Andrew Hughan said.

"The game warden baited the trap with bacon and honey, and he thought he needed a little more incentive so he ran down to McDonald's and got a Happy Meal," Hughan said.

The French fries were used to create a trail. The cheeseburger was placed inside the trap. By 4 a.m., the animal was in captivity.

"Meatball's" relocation should serve as a reminder for people interacting with nature, said Lions, Tigers and Bears Founder and Director Bobbi Brink.

“Please don’t feed the bears,” Brink warned. “Once they get that taste of people-food, they’ll keep coming back, and it will cost them their lives in the wild like it’s done for Meatball. And a lot of times they’re not as lucky as Meatball. They don’t get to find sanctuaries so they’re put down.”

"As a wildlife agency our goal is always to keep animals wild but in this case the best interest of the bear was to capture and relocate him to a safe and secure facility," said Hughan.


View Glendale Bear Sightings in a larger map

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