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To the Rescue! Lions, Tigers & Bears

San Diego Big Cat and Bear Rescue Sanctuary

Moka and Nola  by Jim Hancock 3 1 004

Photo by Jim Hancook

Located just 45 minutes from downtown San Diego, Lions Tigers & Bears is a nonprofit exotic animal rescue sanctuary home to over 65 rescued animals. Bobbi Brink, founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears, established the sanctuary and educational facility in 2002 on 143 acres in Alpine, California. 

Lions Tigers & Bears provide a peaceful, lifetime home to rescued lions, tigers, black bears, grizzly bears, bobcats, mountain lions, jaguars, leopards, llamas, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, peacocks, and a macaw, all of which are victims of the exotic animal trade. Many of these rescued animals were born in captivity and used for profit in the entertainment industry and roadside zoos, bred and sold as pets or are retired circus animals. 

The countryside sanctuary offers visits to the public Wednesday – Saturday, where guests embark on a two-hour guided walk of the sanctuary, see the vast animal habitats and learn the animals’ rescue stories. For guests 18 and older, Lions Tigers & Bears offers a bucket list experience in which guests can feed the animals part of their daily diet with a “Feed with a Keeper” or “Behind the Scenes” experience.  

The sanctuary has many opportunities to volunteer, including food preparation, special events and office help, carpentry, or even training as a visit guide. All jobs are incredibly important to Lions Tigers & Bears operations. 

Lions Tigers & Bears is the first in Southern California and one of a handful exotic animal sanctuaries in the country to be accredited by both the American Sanctuary Association and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, meeting rigorous guidelines regarding animal care, habitat size, and more. It is a no-contact facility, meaning no visitors or staff will ever have one-on-one contact with these animals. It also means they do not buy, sell, breed or trade animals. 

As a nonprofit, Lions Tigers & Bears is immensely grateful for all support received as it takes a lot of work and resources to provide for all its resident animals and rescue missions. All donations benefit the rescued animals and give the sanctuary an opportunity to provide food, veterinary care, further enrichment, habitat maintenance and more. To learn more, book a visit or donate, visit Lions Tigers & Bears

Get to Know Rescued Tigers Moka & Nola at Lions Tigers & Bears Animal Sanctuary

Lions Tigers & Bears, San Diego’s only big cat and bear sanctuary, is a nonprofit organization home to over 65 rescued exotic animals. Six of these animals are tigers, all of which were bred in captivity to be used for cub petting, roadside zoo animals or personal pets. 

Moka the tiger made headlines across southern California in 2017. A teenager had Moka, a cub at the time, crammed into the floorboards of his car as he tried to make his way into San Diego through the San Ysidro border crossing. Once Moka was discovered and in the possession of authorities, he was temporarily under the care of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reached out to Lions Tigers & Bears looking for a permanent home for him, and Moka became quickly and comfortably adjusted at Lions Tigers & Bears.

Soon after adapting to his new home, Moka was introduced to another tiger cub of a similar age, a white tiger named Nola. 

Nola was also a victim of wildlife trafficking and confiscated by local law enforcement in December 2017. Just five months old at the time of her rescue, Nola was found chained up in the backyard of a Louisiana home and needed immediate medical attention due to neglect, malnourishment, parasites and other issues. She was rescued by the compassionate team at Lions Tigers & Bears, who gave her a lifetime home and much-needed veterinary treatment, and she made a full recovery. 

Nola and Moka and became fast lifelong companions, and they play and swim in their spacious habitat every day.

Visit Moka, Nola and more than 60 other rescued animals at Lions Tigers & Bears. The sanctuary offers educational guided visits every Wednesday through Saturday. Visit to book your visit today.