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September 15, 2012 (Alpine)—Meatball the bear, originally slated to be temporarily housed at Lions, Tigers & Bears in Alpine, will now be staying permanently at the rescue facility. Owner Bobbi Brink has issued a plea for public help to build a larger enclosure for the bear, which had been wandering into neighborhoods before it was captured and taken to LTB to save it from being killed.

Below is a copy of Brinks’ letter:

I know many of you have been following the story of Meatball, a 5-year-old black bear captured by the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) in August. Meatball had become "habituated" -unafraid to enter areas of human habitation. Because habituated bears pose a potential threat to humans, they must be removed from the wild.  Some are euthanized; luckily, the DFG chose to relocate Meatball.

We at Lions, Tigers, & Bears offered to transport Meatball to his new home at a sanctuary in Colorado, and he came to LTB for quarantine. Unfortunately, Colorado law bans wild-born animals from entering exotic animal sanctuaries, and we haven't been able to find another appropriate sanctuary willing to take Meatball. And so, Meatball will be staying at LTB!

Having just welcomed a new bear in June, though, LTB is at full capacity. That's why we need your help to build a new bear habitat. Meatball will need a bedroom, as well as an enclosed outdoor area to roam and play. And because we know he loves water (before being captured, he was filmed pool-hopping), we'd love to build him a pool.

SDG&E has already agreed to donate 26-foot wooden poles to support the outdoor enclosure. With your donation, we can purchase building materials and begin construction on this major project.

Meanwhile, we've begun the challenging process of getting Meatball accustomed to life in captivity. As a wild animal, he doesn't understand how to live in an enclosure or that it's OK to eat food provided by people. All of his instincts are telling him to run for the hills and that he can't trust the people around him. This is why the small cage at this time is so important to his recovery.

Meatball will not only need to go through this mental process but also through all the medical steps which include a complete physical, blood work, a micro-chip, a dental check, and he will have to be neutered in order to be with other bears.

Fortunately, we at LTB have lots of experience, patience and compassion to see Meatball through this process. No one can tell how long it will take Meatball to decide us humans are OK and he can rely on the daily chef and room service. Some bears can be ready in a few days and some can take months. He is already settling down a bit and we have decided not to uproot this process and haul him across the country only to start the entire process all over again, which would add more stress to a already stressful situation.  Rather, we've decided to go forward build Meatball a proper habitat and hope Meatball will be ready to go into the new habitat shortly after it is built.  We look forward to the day when he is happy and comfortable in a new habitat - a day that can come only with your generosity.

Please know that Lions Tigers & Bears is run entirely by volunteers, none of your donations will be going to legal fees but to the building of LTB's next bear habitat and the care of the animals that call LTB home. We work very closely with California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) they have been very helpful through out this process with Meatball and we are very thankful for all their help. Meatball is thankful too!

Please help by donating, and know that your gift will help this bear live his life in safety and with caring, like he deserves. And thank you!

If by some small unlikely chance Meatball ends up going to Colorado all donations will go towards building a new bear habitat to help more bears in the future.


Bobbi Brink


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