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Supporters mobilize fundraising campaign for Glendale bear

August 29, 2012
(Cheryl Guerrero/Staff…)

With his days of raiding local trash cans or taking a dip in backyard swimming pools appearing numbered, fans of Glendale’s favorite bear, “Meatball,” have started a fundraising campaign to pay for his relocation to a wildlife sanctuary — if and when he gets caught.

The bear, also known by his Twitter persona “Glen Bearian,” returned for a third time to the La Crescenta area this week after having been relocated to Angeles National Forest twice before.

State fish and game officials say that if the bear is caught a third time, they will take the bear to a permanent wildlife refuge in Colorado rather than attempt another relocation.

But the bear’s transport will cost money, prompting some of his most ardent fans in Glendale to tap into the power of social media to raise funds for the transport by selling T-shirts and buttons.

The first batch of Glendale bear shirts have already proven a hit.

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“I’m already running out of sizes,” said Glendale resident Scott Lowe, who with Sarah Aujero cooked up the idea to sell merchandise to raise money.

The duo started selling the shirts online at theglendalebear.com Tuesday, the same day “Meatball” was reportedly spotted swimming in a La Crescenta pool.

The 400-pound bear has been paying regular visits to the foothills for months, munching on meatballs, oranges and baklava.

“It’s not often that you hear of a bear that’s so animated,” said Aujero, who started the Twitter account @TheGlendaleBear to increase public awareness of the animal. “The stories of this bear are something you would find in a children’s book.”

She originally asked Lowe, a technical director at a local animation studio, to draw a cartoon bear for her Twitter account, but then the two realized that the image, a play on California’s flag, could sell shirts to protect the bear.

The shirt design replaces the grizzly bear and red star with a cartoon version of Meatball and a red heart.

About half of the first batch of 50 shirts have been sold for $15 each. The two are also selling $1 buttons featuring the cartoon bear and phrases such as “#bearhug,” a play on Twitter’s symbol for a trending topic. Tote bags and bumper stickers are also in the works.

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