Aug. 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM ET
A bear that kept coming back to the Los Angeles neighborhoods where he became a familiar sight in recent months, and is renowned for having gone into a resident's garage fridge, opening up a bag of meatballs from Costco and eating them, has a Twitter following of more than 28,000 and is headed to a permanent home — sans meatballs.
The bear, known as "Meatball," "Glen Bearian" and "210" — the latter because of the Interstate 210 freeway that parallels some of the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County where "Meatball" was twice returned by the California Department of Fish and Game.
The forest is near residential areas of La Canada, Flintridge and Glendale, and the reason for the name Glen Bearian, with a Twitter account by that name set up by Sarah Aujero, 29, who was happy to hear he's heading to a more permanent home.
"He needs a place where he … can have all the food and facilities for him to have a happy life," she told the Los Angeles Times. Aujero is using the Twitter account to help raise awareness and the money needed to move Meatball to a permanent home in Colorado. She's selling T-shirts and pins via a website, The Glendale Bear. Meatball had become quite a fixture for many months, and won the hearts of many area residents.
"This particular bear had become quite used to being there," in residential areas, Michael J. Stefanak, captain of the Southern Enforcement District for the Department of Fish and Game, told TODAY.com.
"Both times we captured him and took him to the forest, he returned" to the neighborhoods. "The last time we took him to the forest, we were really hopeful he wouldn't come back — but he did."
Stefanak said state wildlife personnel determined that Meatball was more of a "nuisance" bear than an aggressive one; in his residential prowls, he never hurt anyone.
State officials said the bear is an adult — "He's 400 pounds-plus; he's definitely healthy," Stefanak said (probably all those meatballs).
This week, when Meatball was captured for a third time, he was taken to a rescue facility, Lions Tigers & Bears, in San Diego County, where he'll be for awhile before he is taken to his permanent home, the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.
At Lions Tigers & Bears, Meatball is bearing up.
"Meatball is doing great," said Jennifer Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the rescue facility, told TODAY.com. "He is getting accustomed to his new space and resting comfortably. He is not eating any more meatballs, but we have provided him lots of healthy food."
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