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Glendale News Press

Online auction for 'Meatball' memorabilia closes at $2,000

12:51 PM PST, November 19, 2012

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The bids are in for a package of memorabilia for Glendale’s most beloved bear, “Meatball.” An EBay auction for the famous bear’s orange tracking ear tag, painted paw print and a photo sold for $2,000 on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the animal sanctuary taking care of Meatball, Jen Jenkins, declined to divulge the amount they had hoped to get, but said the final figure was “pretty close.”

The sanctuary in San Diego County — Lions, Tigers & Bears — has been caring for Meatball since he was captured by a California Department of Fish & Game warden in August and has been raising funds to build the 500-pound bear a permanent outdoor habitat.

The package of memorabilia, which went up for bid on Nov. 7, had included a lock of Meatball’s fur collected while he was sedated for medical treatment. But it was later removed after the sanctuary learned California law prohibits the sale of wild animal hair.

The identity of the winning bidder will likely be released later this week, Jenkins said.

For months, Meatball nosed through trash cans in the foothills in and above Glendale, even after state wildlife officials twice transported him deep into the Angeles National Forest.

The third time he was caught using a trail of McDonald’s French Fries and bacon. Due to the Meatball’s popularity in social media, state officials opted against euthanizing the bear, and instead shuttled him to Lions, Tigers & Bears.

Since then, the sanctuary has been trying to raise the $250,000 needed to build Meatball a four-acre habitat complete with trees, open space and a water fountain.

Fundraising efforts have been boosted by Meatball’s fame, but the sanctuary has been stuck at about $105,000 for weeks now.

The bear has been living in a 15-by-20 foot caged quarantine facility for months now. He was supposed to move into a larger, temporary adjacent to another male ursine, Sugar Bear, weeks ago, but construction has taken longer than expected.

However, the sanctuary has started to clear trees to build the new habitat and is working with an architect and contractor to complete a blueprint, Jenkins said.

If the memorabilia auction was too rich your blood, the sanctuary is selling a holiday ornament featuring a picture of a wide-mouthed Meatball in a photo-shopped Santa hat on their website, lionstigersandbears.org, for $5 each.

“He’s eating well,” Jenkins said. “He’s doing just fine."

RELATED:

Wildlife sanctuary to see how 'Meatball' does with new neighbor, 'Sugar Bear'

'Meatball' to stay in Alpine wildlife sanctuary, state official says

-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.