We know everyone is interested in hearing about Meatball, and we want to give you an update about how he is doing and about the progress of the new habitat. The below information is current as of 10/06/12. For additional information and periodic updates, please subscribe to our newsletter (at the top of this page) or follow us on Facebook.

Meatball in temporary quarantine

Where is Meatball being kept right now?

Meatball is currently in our quarantine area. This is standard procedure for any new animal. The outside enclosure is surrounded by trees and shrubs, but is also protected from the elements. It includes a large water tub, enrichment toys and places for Meatball to hide.

Why is Meatball currently in quarantine?

New animals are required to remain in the quarantine area for at least 30 days to ensure the animal has no diseases or parasites that would be harmful to humans or other animals.

In addition to ensuring Meatball is free of diseases, it is important for him to acclimate to being in captivity. Quarantine is a customary and beneficial process, as it provides a “comfort zone” and reduces stress. Our vet, Dr. Jane Meier, will monitor Meatball’s progress and let us know when he is ready to be moved into the larger habitat. For more information and a statement from Dr. Meier, see below.

What’s next for Meatball?

We will soon be providing Meatball with a full physical and dental examination from our vet. He will also be neutered. Once these procedures are complete and the welder is finished building his new transition enclosure, he will be able to be moved over by the other bear residents at LTB. When the new habitat is built, we will transition him into his new home.

What is Meatball’s diet?

Meatball eating breakfast

Meatball eats Omnivore food, a nutritionally complete diet designed especially for bears, as well as fruit, fish, raw nuts and vegetables. His favorite foods are avocados and peanut butter and honey sandwiches on grain breads. Of course, he also eats a few meatballs every now and then.

How is Meatball feeling?

Meatball has gained all of his weight back and looks forward to being fed each day. He has calmed down and his happy personality shows when caretakers visit him. He is not afraid of humans any more.

What will the new bear habitat look like?

The layout of the new habitat has yet to be finalized, but the current, comparable habitat is full of rolling hills, rock formations, caves, tunnels, hammocks, trees and has a swimming pool. The new habitat will link together with the current habitat through an alley, which will effectively double the current habitat space. The new habitat will also allow space for future rescues.

How much will the new habitat cost?

The current, comparable habitat cost $250,000. It is expected that the new habitat could cost the same to build.

How much money has been collected?

We are happy to report we have collected over $80,000 in cash and in-kind donations! We still need your help, though. To donate to help build the new habitat, visit our “Many Ways to Help” website page.

Breaking ground on Meatball’s safety bedroom

What is the status of construction of the new habitat?

Every animal at LTB gets his own personal safety bedroom. Our welder is in the process of building Meatball’s safety bedroom right now, which will also be used as his enclosure to move him from quarantine to a transition area near the new habitat. This bedroom will become part of the larger habitat, and a place where he can always retreat to for comfort and safety. We are working as quickly as we can to obtain bids and materials for construction on the habitat, in hopes that it will be ready when Meatball is ready.

Will Meatball be with other bears in the new habitat?

Given that Meatball was likely alone in the wild, LTB will need to gradually introduce him to the other bears and see if they get along. Ultimately, it will be the bears’ decision to either spend time together or go it alone.

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STATEMENT FROM VETERINARIAN  JANE E. MEIER

Meatball is adjusting to his new life at LTB. He is currently in quarantine to
insure he is disease free, readily eating a healthier diet, adjusting to his new
environment, and learning his new routine. All new animals at LTB go through a
quarantine to keep the existing residents and the new arrivals healthy. During
quarantine, new arrivals like Meatball undergo a complete physical examination
including a hands-on examination, assessment of body condition, routine
bloodwork to establish a baseline, weight, oral examination, microchipping,
neutering or spaying if necessary, treatment for external parasites, and
multiple fecal examinations and treatment for internal parasites.

During the quarantine period, Meatball is being housed away from the current
residents to protect the health of both groups. The quarantine area needs to be
safe and easily cleaned and disinfected for the health and welfare of existing
and new residents alike. Some parasites and bacteria can persist in soil for
years. It is critical that the dirt enclosures at LTB are not infected. Concrete
floors can be cleaned of persistant parasite ova and other disease producing
organisms while contaminated dirt has to be dug out and disposed of as hazardous
material. Quarantine areas are generally large enough to be comfortable for the
animal while being small enough to allow for close observation and positive
training.

Meatball is doing well acclimatizing to his new surroundings. Soon it will be
safe for him to meet the other bears at LTB.

-Jane E. Meier, D.V.M.