A Cookie-Stealing Bear Keeps Finding His Way Back to an Italian Town

After breaking into a local bakery, the pesky bear named "Juan Carrito" has been relocated... twice.

Last November, Marina Valentini's husband called her from the bakery the couple runs in Roccaraso, Italy and said seven words that she never could've expected. "I was at home, expecting him for dinner, when he called and said: 'Marina, there's a bear in the bakery,'" she told The Guardian. "My first response was: 'Have you been drinking?'"

He wasn't: there really was a massive Marsican brown bear inside their Dolci Momenti (Sweet Moments) bakery, and after breaking a window and climbing in, the bear was helping himself to all the fresh-baked cookies he could eat.

"He must have smelled them wafting down the street," Valentini told the outlet. "I had baked so many, some were on the table, the rest were in the oven… the doors were slightly open and he managed to pull out all the trays and eat the biscuits."

The two-year-old bear — who has been named Juan Carrito by the residents of the picturesque ski-resort town — was then loaded into a helicopter and relocated to the Majella national park about 40 kilometers (24 miles) away. "In other parts of Italy or other countries, a bear like Juan Carrito would probably have been placed in captivity," a spokesperson for the national park authorities said in a statement quoted by The Telegraph.

The bear's stay in his potential new home only lasted a few days, before he found his way back to Roccaraso and was seen hanging out near his favorite bakery, playing in the snow, and tentatively trying to make friends with a few curious dogs.

Marsican brown bear; Italian pastries
Paolino Massimiliano Manuel / Getty Images; Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

At the end of March, Juan Carrito was re-captured and taken to a nature sanctuary, where he spent several weeks being evaluated before being released in the Majella national park again. "We know there are other bears in the park there for him to be with and we really hope he stays put this time," wildlife biologist Antonio Antonucci told The Times. "The chances are not high he will stay put, but we really want to give him the chance of a normal life."

Antonucci was right: although Juan Carrito was deposited almost 150 kilometers (93 miles) out of town, in less than three weeks, he managed to find his way back again. What happens now may be up to Juan Carrito, and how well he does (or does not) behave now that he's returned to Roccaraso. "It's a bad thing to say from a nature point of view, but for him, it seems natural to be in Roccaraso, where there is activity, people and other animals," Lucio Zazzara, Majella national park's president, said according to The Guardian.

He has been fitted with a GPS collar, so park officials will be keeping an eye on him. Regardless, he may not get a second helping of Dolci Momenti's cookies: the Valentini's have since put (hopefully) bear-proof bars on the windows.

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