Juan Carrito, Italy’s beloved brown bear, dies in traffic accident

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Juan Carrito’s mother, Amarena, was notorious as a food-conditioned bear. (She also gained some fame for giving birth to four cubs in January 2020, a record for Apennine brown bears, according to Mr. Antonelli.)

The first time Juan Carrito was released into the wild, in December 2021, he spent a week in the forest before venturing back into a populated area. He was captured again months later and placed in a bear preserve, in the hope that he would develop a taste for more appropriate natural food: berries, insects, carcasses, honey.

This time he lasted three weeks in the desert before the lure of junk food dragged him back to human habitats. Italian media followed his breathless movements, relishing the rebellious bear, while rangers tracked him via radio collar, hoping he would stay safe and away.

“It was difficult because once a bear learns to find easy food, it goes back to it,” Mr Antonelli said. “It’s like showing humans a buffet and telling them they can eat for free.”

The fact that Juan Carrito was still roaming the Apennines in January, rather than hibernating as bears should, was due to him looking for food in villages, he said: “It was abnormal .

The bear’s scientific name was M20, but it was named Juan Carrito for the small town where it made some of its first forays, and Juan is the Spanish version of Giovanni, for Giovanni Cannata, president of the Abruzzo National Park , Lazio and Molise.

Juan Carrito has become something of a mascot for the Abruzzo region. When he burst into a beehive last September, the beekeeper joked that the bear liked his products. Last month, a Michelin-starred local chef, Niko Romito, surprised the wandering bear near his three-star restaurant. he posted on Instagram that the bear had gone straight to the kitchen.