Lions and Tigers and Bears (and San Diego)
Dorothy was onto something awesome when she hopped along the yellow brick road chiming “Lions and Tigers and Bears!” - if only she hadn’t been interrupted by the Oz’s mighty roar the yellow brick road might have taken her to Alpine, San Diego. And what she would have found there, would be - you guessed it - lions and tigers and bears!
This big cat and exotic animal sanctuary was started in 2002 by founder and director Bobbi Brink, who had taken a keen interest in the well-being of the inhumane care of animals that were no longer of revenue importance in the tourist and wild animal trade or thoughtlessly abused and exploited by private owners. She took it upon herself to transform the secluded 94 acres of land she owns in Alpine into an exotic animal sanctuary in which these rescued animals could peacefully retire. In 2002, Bobbi started with the rescue of two tigers. She has now rescued 3 and then some, in the form of bears (10), lions (3), bobcats (3), a leopard, a mountain lion, African serval, some horses, and peacocks that patrol the area on their own accord.
The idea of seeing these animals in general pulled me to explore the vast acreage of Alpine, but the actuality of seeing them face to face, saved only by a chain-link fence was an experience both nerve-racking and absolutely awesome. From the time of arrival to the time of departure, the staff was friendly, the animals were playful and curious, and my camera didn’t leave my hands. I learned so much about the animals and the reasons as to why more accredited sanctuaries are seriously needed.
To care for this abundance of animals, the sanctuary has a solid team of volunteers and 9 vets that can be called in for routine health check-ups for their motley crew of rescued animals. Most of the animals are fed lean raw meat, except for the Bears, who enjoy a diet much like you or I.
There are obvious reasons why we, at SanDiego.com, suggest visiting Lions, Tigers and Bears, but we’re willing to spell it out for you in the form of top 4:
1. You learn a lot, A LOT, about animals that are otherwise just stared at through glass walls at your local zoo.
2. Have you heard a lion rawr? Hang around at Lions, Tigers, and Bears you may get a chance to hear their lion Bakari tell you who's boss!
3. Ever wanted a lion, tiger, bear, leopard or bobcat to be a part of your family? For a $25 quarterly donation or a $10+ monthly donation you can adopt them (symbolically, of course)!
4. Not many people have stared into the faces of big cats and lived to talk about it. A thirty-five minute drive, a thirty-five dollar ticket, and/or a twenty-five dollar monthly contribution is well worth this experience.
Well deserving of this month’s Editor’s Choice Award, from those of us here at SanDiego.com we thank Bobbi and her team not only for hosting us, but for teaching us and their contributions that enhance these animals’ lives!