ALPINE ( — The Southern California animal sanctuary that’s the temporary home of the bear known as “Meatball” and “Glen Bearian” is making a last-minute effort to keep him in the Golden State.

Meatball, a 400-pound black bear who has been removed from neighborhoods in Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge three times now, is currently being held in the Lions, Tigers and Bears rehabilitation and animal sanctuary in Alpine, north of San Diego. But, as many Foothill residents can sympathize, the owner of the animal sanctuary has become quite fond of Meatball.

“The owner of Lions, Tigers and Bears really likes Meatball and really wants to keep him,” the sanctuary’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Jenkins, said.

The sanctuary wants to raise $25,000 to build Meatball a habitat at the sanctuary. But even if the money were raised, it would take months for the facility to build a habitat for Meatball, who will be sent to Colorado within the week, Department of Fish and Game Capt. Mike Stefanak said.

“The plan is and always has been for him to make the trip to Colorado for permanent housing,” Stefanak said. The staff of Lions, Tigers and Bears has been very helpful in taking him in on a temporary basis on such short notice, but they don’t have the room to permanently house Meatball, he added.

“If there was a permanent facility there, we would have opted for that, but it’s not available,” Stefanak said.

Having Meatball travel so far to get to his permanent home is not ideal, but he should be able to acclimate. In fact, the much cooler Colorado climate might be more beneficial, Stefanak said, because bears have a steadier, uninterrupted hibernation period in colder weather.

“California bears don’t have maintained steady coolness, so if it gets warm, they may come up out of hibernation and wander around, sort of half awake,” Stefanak said. “When it gets cooler, they go back.”

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