Meet Meatball, a remarkable California black bear with an even more remarkable story. In August 2012, Meatball was captured by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife after his third strike of wandering into neighborhoods in northeast Los Angeles. He had become known as the "Glendale Bear" because of his frequent visits.
What made Meatball so unique was his inclination for getting up close and personal with humans. He had developed this habit because of the availability of trash and pet food left outside by residents. Moreover, he had a liking for taking a dip in backyard pools and, on one occasion, was even discovered enjoying a bag of meatballs in someone's garage. It was this savory incident that earned him his memorable name.
Despite being relocated twice, each time over 100 miles away, Meatball showed an unwavering determination to return to the same neighborhood he had come to love.
In most cases, bears displaying such behavior would have faced euthanasia. However, the community's embrace of Meatball, fueled by extensive media coverage, changed his fate. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reached out to Lions Tigers & Bears1"' (LTB) to provide Meatball with a new home.
Meatball's charisma and the love he garnered were so significant that he had his very own float in the 2014 Rose Parade. The float, aptly named "Let's Be Neighbors," even clinched the Governor's Award for the "Best Depiction of Life in California." Meatball's journey from being a neighborhood intruder to a celebrated bear is truly an inspiring tale of compassion and coexistence.