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Meatball the bear’s first year in Alpine

Lions, Tigers, & Bears sanctuary says he still eats meatballs

Meatball
Meatball

Another move is planned for Meatball, the black bear named for his fondness for Costco meatballs.

Also known as the Glendale Bear, he was transported from La Cañada Flintridge by the California Department of Fish and Game on August 29, 2012, and brought to Lions, Tigers, & Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine. It was to be a temporary stay until the bear was taken to Colorado. The sanctuary didn't have a required permit and Meatball remained in Alpine.

Bobbi Brink

The bear will move again to a new habitat at Lions, Tigers, & Bears, founder Bobbi Brink said in a September 14 interview. The habitat will cost $350,000 and approximately $75,000 more is needed before construction starts. Amenities in the four-plus-acre habitat will include a hill, trees, cave, pool, and bedrooms measuring about 15 feet by 40 feet. Each bear at the sanctuary has a room.

Meatball's new home is near the habitat where he lives with four black bears. He's in a separate enclosure and will soon meet Maddie, a black bear who may also live in the new habitat. Maddie lived in an Ohio corncrib until Brink brought her to the sanctuary in July.

"We moved nine bears across 18 states, logging 9000 miles," Brink said. "The other bears were placed in reputable sanctuaries."

The two bears will be introduced after Maddie's room is finished.

"They need to get along for life, which they will do," Brink said. "They don't have a territory formed."

Meatball became known in 2012 because of news reports and social media about his activities in Glendale. He swam in residents' pools and broke into refrigerators and ate Costco meatballs. He was captured and released into the wilderness before returning to Glendale. After he returned a third time, Meatball was taken to the Alpine sanctuary.

When Meatball arrived, "he wanted out. He was a little angry," said Brink. After a week, he settled down.

He was quarantined and the veterinarian examination included a look at Meatball's teeth to determine his age. The approximately seven-year-old bear is "very healthy" and weighs approximately 624 pounds, Brink said. His brown coat "got more red and blond for the summer."

Meatball eats 22 pounds of food each day. The menu sometimes includes meatballs donated by pizza restaurants. Avocados are a current favorite food, along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on grain bread. He also eats cooked meat and raw fish, fruit, and vegetables.

As Brink spoke, Meatball stood. Brink said bears stand to smell something or if they want to "check out something new." She added, "Bears are intelligent. Meatball was knocked out, taken 200 miles away [from Glendale], and released. He came back to the same pool and the same house and knew that Tuesday was trash night. We joke that if Meatball gets out, we'll go to Glendale."

Glendale's 2014 Rose Parade float will feature a depiction of Meatball. Brink said a November 23 benefit will raise funds for the float, and a portion of proceeds will be donated to the habitat.

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Meatball
Meatball

Another move is planned for Meatball, the black bear named for his fondness for Costco meatballs.

Also known as the Glendale Bear, he was transported from La Cañada Flintridge by the California Department of Fish and Game on August 29, 2012, and brought to Lions, Tigers, & Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine. It was to be a temporary stay until the bear was taken to Colorado. The sanctuary didn't have a required permit and Meatball remained in Alpine.

Bobbi Brink

The bear will move again to a new habitat at Lions, Tigers, & Bears, founder Bobbi Brink said in a September 14 interview. The habitat will cost $350,000 and approximately $75,000 more is needed before construction starts. Amenities in the four-plus-acre habitat will include a hill, trees, cave, pool, and bedrooms measuring about 15 feet by 40 feet. Each bear at the sanctuary has a room.

Meatball's new home is near the habitat where he lives with four black bears. He's in a separate enclosure and will soon meet Maddie, a black bear who may also live in the new habitat. Maddie lived in an Ohio corncrib until Brink brought her to the sanctuary in July.

"We moved nine bears across 18 states, logging 9000 miles," Brink said. "The other bears were placed in reputable sanctuaries."

The two bears will be introduced after Maddie's room is finished.

"They need to get along for life, which they will do," Brink said. "They don't have a territory formed."

Meatball became known in 2012 because of news reports and social media about his activities in Glendale. He swam in residents' pools and broke into refrigerators and ate Costco meatballs. He was captured and released into the wilderness before returning to Glendale. After he returned a third time, Meatball was taken to the Alpine sanctuary.

When Meatball arrived, "he wanted out. He was a little angry," said Brink. After a week, he settled down.

He was quarantined and the veterinarian examination included a look at Meatball's teeth to determine his age. The approximately seven-year-old bear is "very healthy" and weighs approximately 624 pounds, Brink said. His brown coat "got more red and blond for the summer."

Meatball eats 22 pounds of food each day. The menu sometimes includes meatballs donated by pizza restaurants. Avocados are a current favorite food, along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on grain bread. He also eats cooked meat and raw fish, fruit, and vegetables.

As Brink spoke, Meatball stood. Brink said bears stand to smell something or if they want to "check out something new." She added, "Bears are intelligent. Meatball was knocked out, taken 200 miles away [from Glendale], and released. He came back to the same pool and the same house and knew that Tuesday was trash night. We joke that if Meatball gets out, we'll go to Glendale."

Glendale's 2014 Rose Parade float will feature a depiction of Meatball. Brink said a November 23 benefit will raise funds for the float, and a portion of proceeds will be donated to the habitat.

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