GLENDALE ( — The woman responsible for publicizing Meatball the bear is locked in a legal battle over the rights to his story.

Meatball, a 400-pound black bear who was caught after raiding a trash can in Glendale in 2012, earned his nickname after images of his capture showed him feasting on meatballs.

Sarah Aujero of Glendale was highly behind the rapid popularity of the bear after creating a Twitter account on his behalf, which went viral. The Twitter account also took part in raising money so that Meatball could live in a sanctuary.

The San Diego sanctuary, Lions and Tigers and Bears, now wants Aujero to sign away all legal rights to the bear’s name and the Twitter account.

“I really don’t know why this is happening,” Aujero said. “I think that it is all a misunderstanding. I don’t think it would be fair for me to have to have to take down my Twitter account just because they want it.”

The sanctuary, which says it wants the rights to Meatball’s name for purposes of fundraising, released a statement, reading in part:

“We’ve tried to work as a team with Sarah, with Meatball’s best interest in mind. However, her refusal to relinquish the trademark is prohibiting the LTB’s ability to raise funds for Meatball.”


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