Everyone’s Favorite Bear

Photo courtesy of Lions, Tigers & Bears


As the CV Weekly looks back at 10 years of stories, few brought as much joy to the community as the coverage of Meatball the bear.

Meatball was first reported visiting the La Crescenta area in April 2012. He gained his name after digging through residents’ trash and refrigerators, dining on spoiled meat.

The La Crescenta-loving bear gained national notoriety after a news clip went viral of him startling a local resident. Although he was relocated approximately 100 miles into Angeles National Forest, that did not stop Meatball from returning time and time again.

Although practicing safety habits and proper disposal of food is crucial for keeping bears in the forest, a Meatball sighting was truly a joy for many residents. The seemingly tranquil bear was seen as a pet for the whole community more than a dangerous, wild animal.

After being removed to the forest twice and making the long trip back down the mountain both times, Meatball was eventually relocated to a wildlife sanctuary in the San Diego area in 2012. The move to the San Diego area was supposed to be temporary until he could be transferred to a facility in Colorado. However, a Colorado law on wild bears being moved to sanctuaries prevented that move from ever occurring.

After that, Meatball was in limbo as his current facility, Lions Tigers & Bears, was without a suitable enclosure. But the community rallied to raise money for Meatball’s roughly $300,000 enclosure. Through a meatball-making competition, funds were raised by the community to help with the construction of his enclosure.

Meatball is enjoying his seventh year with Lions Tigers & Bears. He recently “celebrated” a birthday and has been very healthy since his stay began.

After an initial quarantine period, Meatball underwent a full physical exam, dental exam and a neuter operation. All were very successful and Meatball was eventually moved into his fulltime home.