Lions Tigers & Bears serves as a safe haven for exotic animals raised in captivity.
When Bobbi Brink moved from San Diego to Texas in the 1990s, she had no idea her life was about to take a wild turn.
Instead of opening a restaurant as planned, she discovered the thriving exotic animal trade. Through volunteer positions with breeders, Brink learned about the lenient regulations for exotic animal ownership that exist in many states, and recognized the immense need to help these animals.
Today, Brink is the founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears, an animal sanctuary in Alpine, Calif., that’s home to 65 animals representing 17 different species, including (you guessed it) lions, tigers, and bears. Launched in 2003, Lions Tigers & Bears provides a safe, caring shelter for unwanted and abused exotic animals.
“The animals that are used for photo ops are the most devastating because the breeders can only use them for that purpose until they’re 12 weeks old,” Brink explains. “There are so many animals in need of a home and we can’t place them all.”
Lions Tigers & Bears houses as many animals as it can on its 93-acre ranch. Current residents include black and Himalayan bears, African lions, bobcats, and even pygmy goats and a potbellied pig. Brink spends her days on the phone coordinating rescues all over the country and recently achieved a significant milestone moving 60 domesticated bears from Ohio. She lobbies for laws to prevent the breeding of exotic animals for profit and strives to raise awareness of the need to advocate for this unknown population.
“The average person thinks that a tiger lives only in the circus and the zoo, but people have no idea that you can have a tiger without a permit,” she says. “What we’re trying to do is stop the abuse of these animals. Our goal isn’t to rescue a million animals; it’s to provide a healthy home for the ones we can rescue. Every life counts.”
Lions Tigers & Bears welcomes the public for “Member for a Day” or “Keeper for a Day” experiences, held Wednesday through Saturday, as well as for annual fundraisers, including a Christmas shopping event the first Saturday in December.
For more info: lionstigersandbears.org