Ali Van Zee first learned of 'Meatball' on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show during a featured , before he looks up and sees a giant bear.
She is now the donor responsible for transferring Meatball from the San Diego area to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, where he could live as early as next week, Jennifer Jenkins a spokesperson for Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine, Calif, told Patch.
“…This story went right to my heart and I wanted to be sure he would be safe,” Van Zee told Patch via email.
The activist has worked to save bruins with the BEAR League in Lake Tahoe, an organization that protects the nearly 300 bears on the California side and 200 on the Nevada side.
Van Zee started following , an account local Sarah Aujero created for the bear, tweeting from the perspective of the meatball-loving, tuna-craving animal.
She saw that Aujero and fellow Glendalian Scott Lowe were fundraising for Meatball by selling t-shirts and buttons on TheGlendaleBear.com.
“I'm in a position at the moment to be able to help out financially and didn't hesitate to offer to pay for his relocation,” she said.
Aujero put her in touch with The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado and Lions, Tigers and Bears Santuary in Alpine contacted her. Van Zee will help take care of the cost of keeping the animal there until he is transferred.
Why do this for a bear?
“This bear has become the poster child for human carelessness. What better teaching tool?” Van Zee said.
Not all bears have this luck, she added.
“Though his story has a happy end, this is sadly not the case for bears who become habituated to neighborhoods where people leave garbage out, windows and doors open, fresh-baked cookies on the counter, etc. A bear has one driving instinct and that is to eat. If they find easy pickings in people's homes, they will be back. [It's] guaranteed,” she said.
A homeowner in the Lake Tahoe Basin allegedly taunted, threatened and baited a bear only to illegally shoot it in the back, Van Zee said.
This incident prompted her to take action, she said.
“Sunny, as she was known was only 3-years-old and very sweet, but she had learned that homes had 'tasty treats' and an open door was like an engraved invitation,” she said.
"Too often, rather than amend the behavior that is bringing bears back, people just call on the Department of Fish and Game to have the bear killed. This scenario plays out over and over again and we are losing many of these beautiful and intelligent animals," Van Zee said.
Both the Placer County Sheriff’s Department and fish and game officials are investigating.
"I applaud the DFG's efforts in both cases and I certainly didn't want Sunny's fate to be Meatball's. 90% of the time, that is the outcome though and mostly via depridation permits given by DFG who has trappers come and kill any bear unlucky enough to wander into the trap," she said.
Meatball first visited La Crescenta in March and was coined Glendale Bear.
Since, the bear was captured twice before its third capture and relocation to the San Diego area. It's recent appearances left "Glen Bearian" fans racing to fundraise.
“We knew the bear was back in town so we had to get ready for it,” Lowe told Patch.
Several locals were helping to raise money to put “Meatball” or “Glen Bearian” in a safe habitat by creating a website to sell t-shirts and buttons.
Since he was relocated on Wednesday, Lowe has received several t-shirt orders every hour.
“It’s a full-time job being a fan of this bear,” said Lowe, who runs the blog Tropico Station. “It’s been a whirlwind.”