An Adorable Bear Keeps Returning To A Bakery In Italy

We humans may share most of our genetic makeup with apes, but sometimes an unlikely member of the animal kingdom surprises us with behavior that seems singularly homo sapien in nature. A 2020 episode of NPR's "Hidden Brain" revealed that rats let out shrill giggles in response to tickling, and a later study cited by the media nonprofit confirmed that 65 animal species "have their own form of laughter." Elephants are known to bury and mourn their dead loved ones, per BBC, while dolphins can exhibit humanoid personality traits like "openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism," per The Guardian.

As for bears, outdoorsy folk will be the first to tell you that the fluffy caniforms get cravings for junk food rather than, say, vegetables, just like humans. That's why campers will often wrap up their provisions and string them high in a tree to avoid a visit from a bear on the hunt for snacks. 

In children's books, beloved anthropomorphic bears like Winnie the Pooh and Paddington play on bears' love of honey and sweets. And just like a character from a story, an audacious member of Italy's small Marsican brown bear population proved how far he's willing to go for a decent cookie. According to Food & Wine, the 2-year-old broke into a bakery in the central Italian ski town of Roccaraso, was relocated to a distant reserve a couple of times, and recently came back. 

The bear traveled almost 100 miles to the town where he found cookies

If this story sounds familiar, it's because the bear in question — known affectionately as Juan Carrito by Roccaraso residents, per Food & Wine — made headlines in November when he first broke into Marina Valentini's Dolci Momenti bakery to steal an array of cookies. After being promptly relocated to Majella national park (which is over 20 miles away from Roccaraso), Mr. Carrito found his way back just a few days later, when residents spotted him tromping around in the snow and "tentatively trying to make friends with a few curious dogs." 

He returned to the bakery yet again in late March and was transferred to a nature sanctuary for studies before being re-released into the national park. Alas, Carrito has proven that no amount of distance or exile can prevent him from returning to the scene of his crime. He traveled close to 100 miles for his latest trip. Days prior to his arrival, he chose not to enter other nearby towns but made an exception for the town where he became a famous cookie thief, The Guardian reports.  

Food & Wine adds that wildlife biologists are closely Carrito via a radio collar and that the owners of Dolci Momenti have fitted their windows with "bear-proof bars." For now, Carrito will have to satisfy his sweet tooth with the berries he finds in the wild.