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By Miriam Raftery

December 28, 2013 (Alpine) -- Meatball’s fame just keeps growing.  On New Year’s Day, the Rose Parade will feature a float honoring Meatball, the now famous black bear residing at Lions, Tigers and Bears, a rescue facility in Alpine. 

Meatball was removed from the wild after he started raiding trashcans in a suburban Glendale neighborhood, where he had a fondness for frozen meatballs. Now the City of Glendale is drawing attention to the situation of Meatball of other wildlife with its float in the Rose Parade. The float, titled “Let’s Be Neighbors” will feature a mechanized Meatball in a trash can surrounded by other forest creatures.

Meatball was fortunate, since wild animals that cause problems several times can be put down or, as in Meatball’s case, placed in a sanctuary. 

It costs about $10,000 a year to keep just one large animal such as a bear in a sanctuary.  Lions, Tigers and Bears is now raising funds to build a second bear habitat to accommodate its growing bear population, with matching funds pledged through he holidays.

Meatball, who kept returning to Glendale after being shipped three times to a national forest, has become a glaring example of how wild animals get in trouble when humans feed them.  

Bobbi Brink at Lions, Tigers and Bears has an education program to teach people how to co-exist with wild animals. "We try to teach the kids why we don't feed wildlife," she said.

There’s even a children’s book about Meatball coming soon, titled The Story of Meatball 210 ---- The Hungry Bear."  The number 210 refers to the tag number Fish & Game gave Meatball.  All proceeds from the book benefits Lions Tigers and Bears efforts to provide sanctuaries for Meatball and other large animals in needs of a safe haven.

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