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Captured Glendale bear taken to animal rescue shelter in Alpine

August 29, 2012 |  4:10 pm

The Glendale bear may have to change its Twitter handle, because its new home is in Alpine, Calif.  

A 400-pound black bear that has captivated Angelinos for almost half a year roamed the streets of Glendale and La Crescenta for what will probably be the final time Wednesday morning.  

The popular bear had visited the area multiple times over the last week, said Andrew Hughan of the state Department of Fish and Game. After consulting with the district wildlife biologist, officials decided to set a culvert trap baited with bacon and honey in the La Cañada Flintridge area late Tuesday. About 4 a.m. Wednesday, Hughan said the bear was "successfully secured by the trap." 

PHOTOS: Southern California's backyard bears

On Wednesday afternoon the bear, also known as "Meatball" and "Glen Bearian," was being unloaded at Lions Tigers & Bears, an animal rescue shelter in Alpine, east of San Diego near the Cleveland National Forest. Bobbi Brink, founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears, was not immediately available for comment, theough Hughan said "the bear is safe and secure and resting comfortably."

"It’s a huge relief," said Sarah Aujero, 29, who runs the handle @TheGlendaleBear. "He needs a place where he can be safe, and he can have all the food and facilities for him to have a happy life. The point of this whole thing was for the bear not to die and to be safe. This isn’t going to be the end of bears and wildlife, but this bear was truly special."

So special, that after the bear foiled two attempts by Department of Fish and Game wardens to return it to Angeles National Forest, officials decided Wednesday to take it to a shelter instead.  

So ends one chapter in the saga that has unfolded in pieces since March.

Media first got wind of a large black bear that had broken into a residential garage in La Crescenta almost six months ago. Bears are spotted routinely in the area, but this one had managed to open a refrigerator inside the garage and munch on Costco meatballs.

The bear was later seen picking oranges from a tree, and taking dips in backyard pools when it got hot. Aujero started the Twitter handle, and in one viral video, a man walked straight up to the bear as he was texting on his cellphone. The man then turned abruptly and sprinted away.    

But during one April visit, the bear was tranquilized and captured in the backyard of a Montrose home as residents in their pajamas cheered his safe departure. Wardens transported the bear at least 20 miles deep into the Angeles National Forest, but it somehow returned in June to the same area, performing what Hughan called “an Olympic feat.”

By the middle of July, it was caught snoozing in a Glendale tree, and wardens carted him back to the forest again. But the bear persevered, showing up Tuesday, soaking wet from an apparent swimming session.     

There will be no trash cans to rummage through inside his Alpine shelter. No swimming pools, no people texting in his walkway. But the bear will keep tweeting, Aujero said, and his cartooned face now appears on T-shirts and buttons.

Available on theglendalebear.com, Aujero writes, "Proceeds from merchandise sales will raise funds to send me to a swanky animal sanctuary where they'll spoil me with meatballs and baklava all day!"

A week ago, Brink told The Times that Lions Tiger & Bears would "love" to keep the bear at the facility, but she added that "we would need to build another habitat." At the time, she estimated that it would cost about $250,000 to build a habitat the bear could remain in for life.

Another option previously floated by officials was to raise the few thousand dollars it would cost to transport the bear to Colorado, where more than 80 bears already live at the Wild Animal Sanctuary northeast of Denver.

Aujero said she printed only 50 shirts. She expects she will have to print many more this week.


Undeterred by freeway, bear returns to Glendale area

Glendale bear returns for a poolside escape from the heat

Glendale bear has become a celebrity, worrying authorities 

-- Matt Stevens

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