“Tonight we’re all a little poorer because a family member has left,” offers park president Giovanni Cannata of beloved bear Juan Carrito.
In life, Juan Carrito was a staple of Cannata’s National Park of Abruzzo Lazio and Molise and the surrounding Italian communities. Known as a “charismatic” and “mischievous” bear, Juan Carrito first made global headlines when he broke into a local bakery and feasted on their entire supply of biscuits. Now, Italy is mourning the death of the Marsican brown bear after a tragic accident.
“On State Road 17 this evening before Gallery G. Fiore, outside the park territory, Juan Carrito was hit by a vehicle,” the park’s announcement translates. “After a few minutes of agony, [Juan Carrito] died from the trauma resulting from the impact.”
“Fortunately, the park continues, “the person driving does not appear to have suffered any injuries. Guardiaparco, Carabinieri, Carabinieri Forest Services and veterinarian Dr. Scioli of Veterinary Service of Castel di Sangro provided medical assistance to [Juan Carrito] on the scene.”
The 350-pound body of Juan Carrito now resides at the Zooprophylactic Institute for necroscopy for further analysis, and the community that loved him so remains in mourning.
“There are no words for what happened. Juan Carrito was a troubled bear, but at the Park we did everything, against everything and everyone, to give him a chance and let him stay free. Now he has left us,” the park’s Instagram tribute reads.
The Charismatic Life of Italy’s Most Famous Bear, Juan Carrito
In life, Juan Carrito’s was named came after the village of Carrito in Abruzzo, Italy. It was there that local media first spotted him crossing a road, as Reuters recalls. Carrito is also Spanish, however, as is Juan, which translates to John in English.
Juan Carrito’s most famous exploit in that ill-fated bakery would lead to his tranquilization and capture by local wildlife authorities. The mid-sized bear, who was 4-years-old at the time, would then be relocated to the National Park of Abruzzo Lazio and Molise. But this was far from the public’s last encounter with Juan Carrito, who would regularly return to town for snacks.
Juan Carrito’s story is a tragic one, and highlights the dangers of habituation in bears. As opportunistic omnivores, bears are prone to habituating to human places as sources of food. Whether a bakery, house, bird feeder, trash can, dumpster, or campsite, each proves an easy and tempting target for hungry bears. Often, this leads to the death of a bear by euthanizing due to human safety concerns. Accident such as the traffic incident that took Juan Carrito’s life also become more common with habituated bears.
The Marsican brown bear is a European cousin of North America’s brown and grizzly bears. Today, they are only found in the central Apennine Mountains in Italy. The National Park of ALM is home to most, with only around sixty of the bears left in the wild.