What a Black Bear Named Meatball-210 Can Teach Us About Interacting With Wildlife

Guest post by Lions, Tigers & Bears

What do Costco meatballs, your neighbor’s swimming pool and a Black Bear from the foothills of the Angeles National Forest have in common? Not much one would say, but an infamous Glendale Bear, dubbed Meatball-210, brings all three of these things full circle.

Meatball-210 is a California black bear and the poster bear for “habituation,” meaning he’s not afraid to enter areas of human habitation. And boy this bear sure was not afraid. He was cited numerous times throughout the spring of 2012 moseying around Glendale, going for a dip in neighborhood swimming pools and even going as far as raiding the garage refrigerator of a local resident to score some frozen Costco meatball’s (hence his name).

Meatball-210′s antics brought raving media attention, but more importantly helped to readdress the issue of wild animal-human interaction. With increased deforestation due to urban sprawl, many wild animals are losing habitat bringing them closer and closer to human settlements. They, in turn, become too comfortable with human presence and begin to meddle in an easy trashcan meal, making a dangerous situation for humans and animals alike. This is when the three strikes rule comes into play — i.e., the animal is spotted too close two times, relocated and then if a third sighting occurs they are either sent off to a sanctuary (luckily that was the case for Meatball-210) or, more often than not, destroyed. It is a pressing people problem that far too often gets blamed on the bear, but there is a solution: education.

Understanding how to safely cohabitate with wild animals is key. Here at Lions, Tigers & Bears (LTB) we have made it our mission to not only rescue unwanted exotic animals, but we also strive to provide a platform for educating the public about human-wildlife interaction and measures one can take to keep situations safe for all. Some tips are:

  • Never feed wildlife
  • Never approach wildlife
  • Keep trashcans secure and inaccessible by storing them in garages or sheds
  • Feed your pet indoors so wildlife do not become attracted to the scent

Meatball-210 was luckily captured and transferred to his forever home on our ranch at Lions, Tigers & Bears in beautiful Alpine, Calif., on August 29, 2012. He now serves as an ambassa-bear and blatant reminder to the public about what becomes of a wild bear when they become habituated. LTB is home to five other black bears and a plethora of big cats (lions, tigers, a leopard, panther, etc.) and domestic hoof stock. Meatball-210 is making himself right at home, and yes he still eats the occasional meatball. Visit Lions, Tigers & Bears to learn more about Meatball-210 and the rest of the gang.

Photo provided by Lions, Tigers & Bears


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe4 years ago

I'm sure glad they didn't kill Meatball. I bet he's happy to be at the Lions, Tigers & Bears sanctuary where he doesn't have to worry about where to find his next meal.

Thank you to Lions, Tigers & Bears for saving this big guy!!

Mark Donner
Mark Donner4 years ago

There should be a three strikes rule for the idiots who invented that rule, and the residents who are located in bear territory and send in complaints about the bears. You complain about the bears three times or threaten them with death three times for being around humans in the bears rightful home, you're euthanized on the spot

Nina S.
Nina S4 years ago

Humans should stay out of everything wildlife and nature, and leave it alone! Too bad we need a bear like Meatball to teach us what we already know but are too stupid to admit, cause we want to think we can control everything. Humans actually disgust me, and I'd take a bear instead of a human any day!

Norma Villarreal
Norma Villarreal4 years ago

We humans have infringed upon Nature's habitats and we tend to respond chaotically when Nature visits within 'our boundaries.'

Marianne R.
Marianne R4 years ago

Glad the bear is in a safe place.

Roxana Saez
Roxana Saez4 years ago


Lori Hone
Lori Hone4 years ago

will we ever stop destroying mother nature

Lynn C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Good comments - can't add anything more.