If you are mesmerized by exotic animals like we are, you definitely need to read this post. We took a little road trip to Alpine CA which is 35 minutes east of downtown San Diego to visit Lions Tigers & Bears. This Exotic Animal Sanctuary is nestled on 93 acres that provides a peaceful life for 65+ rescued exotic animals. We not only got to see and learn about the animal and the sanctuaries history but we even had the opportunity to feed a white tiger and Himalayan Black Bear...talk about a once in a lifetime experience. Our 2 hour tour was not only fun and educational but also eye opening. Our guide was happy to answer questions and really made the experience fun. I encourage you to continue reading to learn more about this sanctuary, the animals who currently call this sanctuary home, why you should visit, and what to expect during your visit.
Rescued Animal Residents
Lions Tigers & Bears is a NO CONTACT, NO KILL, NO BREED and NO SELL facility that allows the animals in its care the opportunity to live out their lives with dignity in a caring and safe environment. The sanctuary is home to 65+ lions, tigers, American and Himalayan black bears, grizzly bears, bobcats, mountain lions, servals, llamas, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, peacocks and a macaw. Seeing them is such a treat but learning their stories gave us a much deeper connections with these beautiful and exotic creatures.
Every animal at this sanctuary has been rescued. They each have a unique story, but their common bond is that they are victims of the exotic animal trade. They’ve been born in captivity, used for profit – like cub-petting opportunities, the entertainment industry, or roadside zoos – and then dumped off. Others have been bred and sold as pets, and then their owners abandon or try to sell them because they don’t have the capacity or know-how to care for them. Wild animals born in captivity cannot be released into the wild; they would never survive. Most zoos do not want these animals because they have no conservation value, so there is a need for sanctuaries like Lions Tigers & Bears to provide a lifetime, compassionate home for them.
Lions Tigers & Bears is a nonprofit and globally accredited big cat and bear sanctuary that provides lifetime homes to that need a permanent haven. As mentioned before It’s a refuge for retired circus animals, exotic animals formerly used for inhumane photo and petting opportunities and abandoned, illegally owned big cats, all who’ve been rescued and given forever homes in wide open habitats. The sanctuary is one of the only ones in the country to be accredited by both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association, and the first in Southern California. Im still in shock as to how I had not heard of this Sanctuary before that why I'm here to try and change that.
How To Set Up Your Visit & What To Expect
Guests can book visits, become a member, host events or stay the night at White Oak Wild Nights, the onsite, private two-bedroom luxurious retreat... more on that down below. During our visit, we got a two-hour guided visit of the sanctuary and learned about each of the animals and how they were rescued. Each animal has a wonderful habitat with enrichment, like swimming pools and trees to climb. Theres even the opportunity to feed an animal if you sign up for a “Feed with the Keeper” experience for those 18 or older ($100+ per feeding). On arrival you can enter a $10 raffle to get the opportunity to win a free feeding during your visit! My husband and I both got to feed animals and it was such a great experience.
Lions Tigers & Bears offers visits Wednesday through Saturday (you can book them online HERE ) All proceeds benefit the rescued animals, providing food, enrichment, habitat maintenance, veterinary care and more. So by simply visiting you are already helping.
Other Fun Ways To Explore The Grounds
White Oak Wild Nights
The experiences of an African safari, a tranquil poolside resort and relaxing outdoor meals all meet on the grounds of Lions Tigers & Bears at White Oak Wild Nights, a private, two-bedroom retreat, complete with plentiful on-site accommodations.
Up to four guests (21 and older) can stay and enjoy multiple pools/hot tub, an outdoor kitchen, roaming the sanctuary and observing the animals. Guests can even choose to have a meal prepared by a local private chef. This is definitely on our list of things to experience! You can take a look at their listing here
How We Can Help
The Sanctuary works hard to take care of their animals and educate the public about the dangers of cub petting and keeping a wild, unpredictable predator as a pet.
Here's something very important we took from our visit. If you’re going to support an animal sanctuary, make sure you pay attention to red flags! Do not support a facility that allows contact with a big cat or bear – a selfie holding a lion cub or playing with a bear cub is extremely dangerous to you and to the animal. These activities add to the exotic animal trade, as these roadside zoos need new baby animals all the time to keep their businesses going. Meanwhile … what do you think happens when the animals get too big? This was such an eye opening moment. Now we know!
"Member for A Day" at Lions Tigers & Bears allows you to enjoy a two-hour guided visit of their scenic sanctuary and historic ranch where you will get to meet the exotic animals and big cats and learn their heartwarming rescue stories.
Wednesday - Friday: $43 Adult / $26 Child
Saturday: $46 Adult / $26 Child
Child rate is for ages 12 and under
Take your visit one step further and upgrade to their "Feed with a Keeper" Experience. You will enjoy a two-hour guided visit of their scenic sanctuary and historic ranch where you will get to meet the exotic animals and big cats, learn their heartwarming rescue stories, and help feed one of the big cats or bears of your choice. Be sure to bring your camera to capture this once in a lifetime moment! Its amazing!
Wednesday - Friday: $143 (per person)
Saturday: $146 (per person)
This experience is available to visitors 18+ with Valid ID
Tips For Your Visit
You will be walking on some dirt roads so bring comfortable shoes you are ok with getting dusty/muddy.
You will need to sign a waiver which will be sent to your email after you book or can be done on site
Arrive 15 minutes before scheduled visit to sign in and take a seat to watch a quick 15 min movie introduction and split up into groups
warm days can be really warm so bring sunblock and hats
Bring water. You can purchase snacks at the end of the tour guide but no restaurant or real food on site
Gift shop on site
At the end of your tour you will have the opportunity to continue exploring the grounds and head out to visit your favorite animal on your own.
Absolutely no running on site as that might trigger the animals.
This was such a wonderful experience. It was fun, educational and eye opening. We are definitely so proud to have partnered with such a wonderful organization doing so much for these animals. The staff was incredibly knowledgeable, nice and genuinely happy to answer our questions. We will definitely be visiting again and encourage you do to so as well. I can guarantee you will have an incredible experience.
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Talk to you later!