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Lions, tigers, and bears

Bakari, the lion
Bakari, the lionBobbi Brink

Wild animals should not be behind cages! That might be your first impression when you see the pictures from Lions, Tigers, and Bears, an animal sanctuary in Alpine, CA. However, did you know that there are more tigers born in captivity than there are in the wild? Did you know that it is legal in some states for people to own certain wild animals as pets? Some wild cats are sold as cubs over the internet to people who have no business buying them. This is where Bobbi Brink comes in. She is their hero.

Bobbi has made it her life’s mission to save big cats and bears. Although the animals at Lions, Tigers, and Bears might be behind cages, they were all rescued, and have a good life with land to roam on and many dedicated volunteers to care for them.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears is a non-profit organization that relies on donations to operate. At Lions, Tigers and Bears, the animals’ natural behaviors and instincts are encouraged to keep them active and healthy. Lions, Tigers and Bears is one of only twelve accredited Big Cat and Bear sanctuaries in the United States. www.lionstigersandbears.org

This animal sanctuary was founded in 2002 by Bobbi Brink as a no kill, federally and state licensed animal sanctuary. It started as a sanctuary for big cats, but has since grown. The 93 acre ranch is located in the Japatul Valley.

Bobbi grew up in San Diego, but in the early 1990’s, moved to Texas to open up a restaurant. An avid animal lover who had been around ranch animals all her life, she witnessed the horrific treatment that some captive, big cats experienced in Texas. She decided to get involved and began working with the animals. She did this for 10 years and earned her exotic animal handling license in 2000, before returning to San Diego to open her own facility.

Bobbi has also gotten involved with Tippi Hedren, founder of Shambala [another animal sanctuary], to further protect exotic cats. www.shambala.org

Lions, Tigers and Bears also wants to educate, and in addition to the wild animals, there are also assorted ranch animals, including chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, cows, a miniature donkey, a miniature horse, two horses, a potbellied pig, and two llamas. They are all part of the hands on, educational “Animal Encounters” that teaches humane treatment of all animals.

All this takes money, and Bobbi relies on donations and sponsors. Membership starts at $50 and up, and it entitles you to free, scheduled visits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, along with all the latest newsletters. www.lionstigersandbears.org

Finally, there is Tomcat, one of the resident, domesticated cats. He was a feral cat that Bobbi adopted. He is now the official greeter of the place. He is a good reminder of why exotic cats are not pets and if you want a feline in your life, stick to ones like Tomcat or “adopt” one from Lions, Tigers and Bears.