Heavenly the bear heading south to wildlife sanctuary

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - His name may be Heavenly, but this bear is headed to a place where it gets hotter than...well, Lake Tahoe.

Heavenly the Bear was rescued after he turned up on the slopes of Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Valley Ski Resort in March.

"He was coming up to people at the ski resort, they were skiing, and he was not using one of his legs and they could see wounds on his shoulder and blood," Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Executive Director and co-founder Cheryl Millham said.

Nevada fish and game officials tranquilized Heavenly and he was taken to Tahoe Wildlife Care where he was nursed back to health.

In May, after gaining weight and recovering from his injuries, Heavenly was released back into the wild. He promptly made his way back, covering many miles to return to South Lake Tahoe.

"He crossed three mountain ranges and highways to get back," Millham said.

That's when things took another turn for the worse.

"Not only did he know how to eat out of garbage cans, but obviously, when he was a kid, someone had hand-fed him. Because he was approaching people. He'd come right up to 'em and beg for food," according to Millham.

At that point, bears are often euthanized. But Heavenly was lucky.

"Not only did we agree to keep him until they found a sanctuary, but it cost us about $150. to $200.00 a week to get him the proper food," Millham said. "It was an added budget crunch on us to keep him, but it was worth it."

Last week, Millham got an offer to provide Heavenly sanctuary at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, where temperatures in the summer can often rise above 110 degrees. Milllham said Heavenly should adjust well.

"Oh sure, just like we can, just like people can. He'll probably shed some of his fur and then grow it back sparse, just like dogs and cats do," said Millham.

"They live down in Southern California in the Angeles Crest area and it can be one hundred down there all the time in the summer," according to Millham.

Heavenly will even have his own swimming pool.

Millham said it's seems clear that someone hand-fed Heavenly when he was a cub.

"It's an ending where people might realize that these bears, if they're fed by humans and treated like that, they can lose their life. But his story's gonna come out good," she said.

Millham said she's relieved Heavenly will be going to an animal sanctuary where he can live out his days in comfort.

"If we ever get down to Scottsdale, we'll call them up and tell them we'd like to come and see him," she said.


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