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After Swimming In La Canada Pool, Meatball The Bear Headed To Alpine Animal Sanctuary

Having left the Angeles National Forest one too many times to visit foothill communities, the bear known as Meatball is in quarantine today in the San Diego County community of Alpine.

But what awaits Meatball is not penalty for his frequent foraging forays but, rather, a life of gastronomical bliss.

Meatball was found taking a swim in the pool of a La Canada Flintridge home Wednesday, and that turned out to be the proverbial straw as far as animal control officials were concerned. He was recaptured by a Department of Fish and Game warden who set a trap baited with bacon and honey.

And instead of being returned to the wild, Meatball was transported to the Lions, Tigers and Bears rehabilitation and animal sanctuary in Alpine, in the foothills east of San Diego, where he is reported to be safe and comfortable.

"Meatball's situation is a clear example of why people should not feed wildlife," said Bobbi Brink, the sanctuary's founder.

She said the bear was in quarantine, and workers already love him.

"As a wildlife agency, our goal is always to keep animals wild, but in this case the best interest of the bear was to capture and relocate him to a safe and secure facility,'' said Andrew Hughan of the Department of Fish and Game.

The bear in the past also has been spotted rummaging through garbage cans in Glendale. He was captured and returned to the wild when found snoozing in a tree in July.

But now, Meatball is leaving the Golden State. By early next week, he will have a new home at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo., according to the Los Angeles Times.

"It's a huge relief," Sarah Aujero, 29, who started the Twitter handle @TheGlendaleBear, told The Times. "He needs a place where he ... can have all the food and facilities for him to have a happy life.'

Pat Craig, executive director of the sanctuary, told the newspaper that what awaits Meatball is a 720-acre habitat where more than 80 bears roam free.

The sanctuary has underground dens for hibernating and sometimes gets food donations that can include meatballs and lasagna.

"The great thing is that bears, they get incredible food here. And that's the No. 1 thing bears live for,' he said. "It's actually kind of like the Club Med for bears.'

Brink said she can't keep Meatball because of a lack of room. She said she's looking for donations to expand the current bear habitat.

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