Lions, Tigers and Bears is definitely one of the most unique animal rescues we have in San Diego. Located off a dusty road in Alpine, you would never even realize all these exotic creatures were hidden back there! Owner Bobbi Brink has been working with and advocating for large, exotic animals since the early 90’s. After personally witnessing the abuse these magnificent creatures were enduring, she took it upon herself to be their voice and work towards giving them a better life, one creature at a time.
At the time that we visited, there were 19 species and over 60 animals at the refuge. Every animal on this property has its own traumatic story, some far more unimaginable than others. At Lions Tigers & Bears, these creatures have finally found their forever home. Here they can begin to learn peace, trust and love.
Being a true large exotic animal rescue, no zookeeper is ever in the enclosure with the animal. This means that the animals never have true human contact. The animals get to rotate throughout all enclosures through the day to give them constant stimulation in a variety of different environments.
The tours they offer are guided and last two hours. You will get to come within inches of these exotic creatures and study them up close. They even have “Feed a Wild One” and “Exclusive Behind the Scenes” tour options.
Beyond providing refuge for the animals on their own property, Lions Tigers and Bears also helps provide rescues, medical care and life-saving transports to hundreds of animals to other sanctuaries across the country. An extremely exciting feature on the grounds for true fans is their venue and Airbnb! This means you can have your wedding here or stay on the grounds over night. Photos of the Airbnb are provided in photos below.
Shadow: Shadow was rescued from the Spirit of the Hills Sanctuary in South Dakota in October 2016. She is a beautiful black leopard and was part of a large rescue and relocation effort. After a tiger mauling occured, the facility failed an inspection, closing the entire place down. They were already struggling at this point, taking care of 160+ animals. Update:Shadow has sadly passed away since our visit.
Mia: Mia was rescued in 2011 after Lions, Tigers & Bears received a call from a man in Wyoming who had kept Mia as a pet. The man was ill in health and could no longer care for Mia. Mia had lived her entire life indoors at this man’s house, pee stains and claw damage throughout the home. Although Mia was not abused, this is still not the proper life for a wildcat. Learn more about Mia:
The woman behind it all, Bobbi Brink!
Hank: Hank came from a breeding facility in Ohio that was shut down when the state enacted the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animals Act in 2014. He was brought to the facility in 2015 with his partner, Crystal. Hank and Crystal’s white coat is actually the result of inbreeding which is a cross mix of inbred Bengal and Siberian tigers. Their sole purpose of being bred is to be sold, as tigers of this color are of high value. It comes as a cost though, as they tend to have a ton of issues. Hank, for instance, is completely blind. Learn more about Hank.
Learn more about Crystal:
Bakari: Bakari was rescued in 2007 with his two sisters, Suri and Jillian. They were only four weeks old when they were rescued from a big cat sanctuary in Louisiana due to overcrowding. Learn more about Bakari:
There was so much love with these three I couldn’t take it!
Conga: Conga was rescued in 2004 at the young age of 5 weeks after she was abandoned by her previous owner. Learn more about Conga:
Maddie: Maddie was brought to the rescue when she was 12 years old, after the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animals Act passed in 2013. She was originally going to be sold for less than $200 to a canned-hunting ranch where she surely would have been killed. A friend stepped in and rescued her, but sadly she spent some time in a 20-foot by 20-foot double corn crib and fed a poor diet.
Eventually the friend wrote Bobbi for help and the rest is history! Learn more about Maddie:
Albert: Albert is a Grizzly Bear and spent the first few months of his life being used for photo ops with eager humans. Once him and his sister, Cherry Bomb, became too large, they were sent off to auction. For the next two years Albert lived as a traveling cub-petting prop at pop-up attractions. Unfortunately during these times he was underfed and became severely malnourished. He also suffers from neurological damage and a limp due to cramped confinement.
Eventually a couple purchased Albert, who already owned his sister Cherry bomb. Albert was skin and bones at this point. Eventually the couple realized that taking care of these bears was too much of an undertaking and contacted Bobbi to get them off their hands. In 2014, Albert and his sister were officially able to call Lions, Tigers and Bears home. Learn more about Albert:
Look at Albert posing for my friend, Pacificyo!
Their on-ground hospital:
They also have a venue section and Airbnb if you are interested in staying here! When we visited they were in the process of putting in a pool. I can’t wait to return another day to see everything finished! I took some shots of the cottage though which you can stay at right now!