A bear made famous after he broke into a bakery to steal biscuits has been run down and killed in a car crash.
Heartbreaking video footage shows the rare Marsican brown bear – called Juan Carrito – lying injured on the side of a mountain road moments before his death.
He had been hit by an Opel Corsa driven by a local, say wildlife officials.
The fatal incident reportedly happened near the town of Castel di Sangro, in Abruzzo, Central Italy, on 23rd January.
The hungry four-year-old 150-kilogramme (330lbs) bear made headlines last year for his raids on bins and a bakery in Roccaraso ski resort.
He was also often seen gulping water from public fountains and playing with local dogs before delighted citizens decided to adopt him as a mascot.
Despite his popularity, his troublesome ways got him banned from the town and released into the wilds of the Apennine mountains.
But Juan then shocked locals when spent 18 days walking a 100-mile route and appaeared back in town.
The region’s president Marco Marsilio, 54, announced the bear’s death.
He said: “It is with great pain that I learned of the news of the death of Juan Carrito, the most famous and loved Marsican bear in Abruzzo, that took place on state road 17 near Castel di Sangro.
“The bear was hit by a local resident.
“His loss saddens not only Abruzzo but the whole world that discovered Abruzzo and the beauty of bears through the many videos that showed him ever since he was a cub with his siblings.”
The Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park said in an Instagram statement: “There are no words to express our sadness at what has happened.
“Juan Carrito was a problematic bear but in the park we did everything… to give him a chance and allow him to remain free.”
National Park President Giovanni Cannata added: ” Tonight we’re all a little poorer because a family member has left .”
The national park claimed that the car driver did not suffer any injuries.
Meanwhile, its staff recovered the bear’s remains and brought them to the local Zooprophylactic Institute for an autopsy.
Marsican brown bears, also known as Apennine brown bears are listed as ‘critically endangered’ on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
There are reportedly only about 50 Marsican bears left in Italy.
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Story By: Georgina Jedikovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Central European News
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