On The QT

Lions, Tigers and Bears…O my!

Blogger: Lauren Lucy Crowley 

Well off the beaten track, over mountains and down twisty roads in Alpine, California lies a magnificent hidden treasure… The Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary. This ranch is a non-profit rescue facility devoted to providing lifelong homes for unwanted, abandoned and abused exotic animals. I adore animals, so when I heard about this facility I couldn’t wait for a visit. I certainly was not disappointed.

Sadly, in the US the number of exotic animals born and bred in captivity (about 10,000) is much greater than in the wild (only about 3,000). In the majority of cases, these exquisite creatures born in confinement are horrifically neglected and abused, partially due to their very expensive upkeep (it costs about $15 dollars a day just to feed a full grown exotic cat!). Although founder Bobbi Brink and her team cannot rescue every exotic animal in the country, they work exceptionally hard to rescue those most in need. The animals lucky to be in their care receive buckets of love/affection, comfortable shelter, and all veterinary needs seen to.


On the day of our visit, my GPS brought me down back roads, and dirt tracks, and I began to wonder if we were headed in the right direction. With our 10.00am appointment quickly approaching, I was relieved to drive under the archway into the ranch. As soon as I stepped out of the car into the balmy sunshine and acres of open land, I knew we were going to have a super morning.


There were about six other people booked in for a visit at the same time as us. Once we had all been checked in, we were introduced to the entire team. We then watched a brief documentary on the background of the ranch, and excitedly made our way over to the animals.

I found myself looking around in fascination… Everything about the ranch is so close to nature, and designed to make the animals feel like they are in the wild. There aren’t even any outdoor lights at night time!

Upon reaching the enclosures it was hard to comprehend how close we were to the animals… there was nothing other than a mere mesh wire separating us! We saw big Cats, lions, tigers, cougars, bob cats, and black bears. Each animal had their own spacious enclosure built to reflect what their homes in the wild would be like. Every animals’ history and how they eventually ended up at the sanctuary was explained to us in full as we passed them by.

My favourite part of the day was when we got to Bakari’s enclosure. He was a full size male lion, just like Mufasa from the Lion King….except he seemed even bigger and scarier in real life! He was a little hungry when we got to him… I honestly thought he was going to jump over the fence and have us for lunch!

The tour of all the enclosures lasts about 2.5 hours. Once that is complete you are welcome to stay on the grounds for as long as you like re-visiting as many enclosures as you wish to! We had great fun doing so, we even made a new friend. He was very talkative!

 Entry costs $30 per adult, with 100% of the profits going directly back into the welfare of the animals and maintenance of the sanctuary.

You will definitely leave this ranch with beautiful memories, very much educated about the exotic animal trade, left wondering how someone could not love these amazing creatures, and in awe of the work Bobbi and her team does for these animals. I highly recommend a visit!

QT Tips for your visit:

  • If you plan to visit the ranch on more than one occasion, you can become a member for just an extra $20 which gives you AND a guest unlimited year round access!
  • Advance purchase of your ticket is required. As tour groups are very small, it is recommended you book early to guarantee your chosen day, (Tours are on Wednesdays – Saturdays).
  • Food of any sort is not allowed on the ranch so make sure you’re well fed before your visit!
  • Alpine is only about a 30 minute drive from downtown San Diego, which is my favourite place in all of SoCal, there is so much to do there definitely worth leaving the rest of the day free to explore the area. Head straight downtown, to the gas lamp district, the quaint old town, or even check out the nearby beaches such as Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach!


Blogger: Lauren Lucy Crowley
Lauren is a born and bred Cork girl currently exploring and living in Southern California. She loves all things food, hiking, outdoor markets/ thrift stores and anything to do with animals. Keep an eye out here for her blog posts featuring some of her favourite gems throughout Southern California, and her upcoming trip around the world including Hawaii, Africa, Vietnam and Thailand.
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