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" To animals born in captivity and fated to be ignored and abused, I've dedicated this organization." - Bobbi Brink, Founder
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The Passionate People Behind Our Exotic Animal Refuge In San Diego

At Lions Tigers & Bears, we believe it takes a village. From board members to staff to veterinary doctors and volunteers, the Lions Tigers & Bears family is truly dedicated to the rescue and well being of the animals and to raising awareness of the perils of the exotic animal industry.
Bobbi Brink - Founder/Director/Vice President

Bobbi Brink

Founder/Director/Vice President
Bobbi Brink

Bobbi Brink

Founder/Director/Vice President
Bobbi has been working with and advocating for captive big cats, bears and other exotic animals since the early 90s. She began her personal involvement with these efforts after witnessing the abuses and neglect inflicted on captive exotics victimized by the exotic animal trade. Bobbi made a decision that something must be done, and since then she has made it her personal mission to end the abuses that stem from this heinous industry, one animal at a time.
 
Bobbi plays an active role in managing all aspects of Lions Tigers & Bears' daily operations, from daily feedings to office management. She is a prolific fundraiser and tireless advocate for abused and displaced big cats, bears and other exotic animals. Bobbi has worked across the country to coordinate the rescue and relocation of hundreds of big cats, bears and exotic animals - providing them an opportunity to live out their lives at reputable sanctuaries, including Lions Tigers & Bears. Bobbi has testified before Congress, helping to advocate for legislation that would regulate the trade of these animals. She is also very active in national-level advocacy groups and committees, including the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance and the Bear Care Group.  
 
Both she and Lions Tigers & Bears have won multiple awards and recognition for leadership and public service, including the Carol Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and numerous accolades from the local Chambers of Commerce, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the California State Assembly. 
Mark Brink - President

Mark Brink

President
Mark Brink

Mark Brink

President
Mark is Co-Founder and President of Lions Tigers & Bears. In addition to running his own full-time business specializing in customized helicopter painting and graphics, Mark oversees all construction projects at Lions Tigers & Bears with a true hands-on approach. His expertise can be seen in virtually every building, enclosure and habitat on the property.
Susan Burchett - Secretary

Susan Burchett

Secretary
Susan Burchett

Susan Burchett

Secretary
Susan serves on Lions Tigers & Bears' Board of Directors as Board Secretary. With a Masters degree in Business Administration, and over 20 years experience in Systems Consulting and Information Resources, Susan brings an impressive resume of experience to Lions Tigers & Bears, including a background in financial services and software training.
 
Susan helps with fundraising procurement, Auction Pro Maestrosoft data entry, packaging and display of auction items. She also performs administrative support, and conducts educational and group visits.
Julie Schuettenhelm - Treasurer

Julie Schuettenhelm

Treasurer
Julie Schuettenhelm

Julie Schuettenhelm

Treasurer
Julie serves on Lions Tigers & Bears's Board of Directors as Treasurer. Julie is a Certified Nurse Assistant and Medical Assistant. She has spent her career prepping operating rooms, assisting in surgery and coordinating quality assurance programs for human clients. She now brings that medical acumen to her animal charges at Lions Tigers and Bears, where she assists in medical procedures and examinations in our on-site medical facility.
 
In addition to assisting with the medical needs of our rescued residents, Julie volunteers several days a week providing daily care to our resident bears and big cats. She prepares the animal's specialized diets, administers medication, vitamins and supplements, provides husbandry, and ensures the animals are happy, healthy, and well cared for.
Dr. David Judy - Board Member

Dr. David Judy

Board Member
Dr. David Judy

Dr. David Judy

Board Member

Dr. Judy's career in veterinary medicine started in 1979 after graduating from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Having grown up in the Midwest, he ventured to Southern California after graduating to begin his practice which included companion animals and exotic and equine medicine. Currently, he serves companion animals exclusively and holds membership to CVMA, AVMA, and SDCVMA. He also serves as Chair on the Board of Directors for Lions Tigers and Bears, a non-profit organization serving neglected and abandoned exotics.

Dr. Judy has remained steadfast in his ethos - dedication to the well-being of animals - by frequently attending continuing education seminars beyond the required state board minimums and seeking out the latest technology to benefit his patients.

When not working with animals, Dr. Judy likes to spend  time with his wife, their cat Skunk, and four dogs, two Golden Doodles, Bugs and Lola, a Pom-Tzu, Georgie, and a Terrier mix, Tinkerbell, at their home away from home near Lake Tahoe. Presently, he is taking guitar, bass, and vocal lessons, so once he retires, he fully intends to become a rockstar.

April Jones - Board Member

April Jones

Board Member
April Schumsky

April Jones

Board Member
April serves on Lions Tigers & Bears's Board of Directors. April is a Registered Nurse for the San Diego County Unified School District and has been involved with Lions Tigers & Bears since its founding. April helps out during special events at the sanctuary and advocates for Lions Tigers & Bears within our local community.
Cody Clark - Animal/Grounds Keeper

Cody Clark

Animal/Grounds Keeper
cody clark

Cody Clark

Animal/Grounds Keeper
Cody Clark graduated from Mountain Empire High School in Pine Valley. An East County, native, he has been raising and caring for animals just about his entire life. Cody joined the team in March 2021. His responsibilities include ensuring the wellbeing of all of our rescued animals, whether its providing a proper diet and fresh water, to maintaining the habitats they live in. "Keeping these animals safe and healthy is always my number one priority. I love working at Lions Tigers & Bears because no two days are ever the same and it really keeps you on your toes, but I have such amazing coworkers that make everyday enjoyable. I always know that no matter what challenges come our way that our team will face them and persevere."
Caitlin Donahue - Volunteer Coordinator

Caitlin Donahue

Volunteer Coordinator
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Caitlin Donahue

Volunteer Coordinator
Caitlin Donahue has a B.A. degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, with an emphasis in Journalism and Advertising. Caitlin has been involved in nonprofits her entire professional career - previously working on the development team for an organization that trained service dogs for veterans. She also has experience managing social media, fundraising, and managing volunteers. Caitlin joined the Lions Tigers & Bears team in April 2021 as our Volunteer Coordinator. She oversees and directs our volunteer team, volunteer training programs, our internship program and our daily educational visits.  "My favorite part about working at Lions Tigers & Bears is being surrounded by so many dedicated volunteers who share my passion for wildlife conservation and ending the exotic animal trade. My favorite animal at Lions Tigers & Bears is Suri because she is so beautiful and strong!" A fun fact about Caitlin, she actually volunteered for us in 2016 as a college student! We're happy to have her back full-time working hard alongside our volunteers.
Tina Emanuel - Sanctuary Assistant

Tina Emanuel

Sanctuary Assistant
Tina Emanuel

Tina Emanuel

Sanctuary Assistant

Tina has been a southern California resident the majority of her life. She joined Lions Tigers & Bears in November 2018 to assist with the many tasks and duties that need tending to around the sanctuary. From setting up our White Oak retreat for guests, to helping maintain our offices, surgical suite and gift shop, to helping with purchasing and other administrative duties - she does it all! Tina's favorite aspects of working at Lions Tigers & Bears are learning something new every day, and making a difference in the rescued animals lives.

Neftali “Martine” Guiterrez - Senior Animal/Grounds Keeper

Neftali “Martine” Guiterrez

Senior Animal/Grounds Keeper
Neftali “Martine” Guiterrez

Neftali “Martine” Guiterrez

Senior Animal/Grounds Keeper
Martine is one of our Senior Keepers and has been with Lions Tigers & Bears since 2007. Martine plays an integral role ensuring all of the animals are well care for and their habitats are safe, secure and well-maintained. Along with providing daily care to Lions Tigers & Bears's animal crew, Martine also plays an active role in helping to construct new habitats at Lions Tigers & Bears.
Naomi Heidenreich - Program Assistant

Naomi Heidenreich

Program Assistant
Naomi Heidenreich

Naomi Heidenreich

Program Assistant

Naomi Heidenreich is a San Diego native, and grew up in a small area not far from Lions Tigers & Bears in Alpine, CA. Naomi always wanted to make a difference by helping animals ever since she was little. "I truly believe I was put here on this earth to save animals and so I made it my goal to only work towards that. My goal is to eventually open my own nonprofit sanctuary and to help rescue and rehabilitate exotic and domestic animals. I would love to be able to work with gorillas and orangutans one day. My role models are Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall and Bobbi Brink." Naomi lived in Suffolk, England for three years where she volunteered at a small farm in the countryside helping tend to the animals. In January of 2021, she moved back to San Diego and started as an intern at Lions Tigers & Bears shortly after in February 2021. By March, she was happy to join us on staff. 

Naomi leads the role of the receptionist and administrative support. Her duties consist of answering phones, taking down messages, handling any inquiries that come in, booking visits, data entry, attending morning keeper meetings to take notes and assisting Bobbi with any special projects. 

"My favorite thing about being a part of the Lions Tigers & Bears team is being able to closely work with such great people who are kind and are all here for the animals. It is one of the only jobs I've had where I feel such a positive environment and where I can truly see everyone loves their role at the sanctuary because it is for the animals. I love working at Lions Tigers & Bears because it is one of the only true accredited animal sanctuaries in the world. I have never worked for a job where I can proudly say I fully support everything they are doing and what their mission is. I believe we need more people who care like Bobbi Brink and are here truly because they want to make a difference for every animal. I love coming to work every day seeing each animal here live out their best life and knowing that we are making a huge impact on the world to end roadside zoos, the exotic animal trade, cub petting, animals in the entertainment industry and all the other horrible animal industries and trades. I think it is so important that people are educated on what is happening to these animals because a lot of people do not even know what is going on behind closed doors. I think by educating the public on what is actually happening will make a major difference and soon we will be able to end this inhumane trade."


 
Cody Heimann - Animal/Grounds Keeper

Cody Heimann

Animal/Grounds Keeper
Cody Heimann

Cody Heimann

Animal/Grounds Keeper
Cody Heimann has a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Mathematics from the University of Colorado. Cody spent several years as volunteer/intern (during college) followed by two years employed as a keeper/animal caretaker at a large carnivore sanctuary in Colorado. He also spent time as an amateur gigging musician and was a staff member at another small animal sanctuary in Colorado prior to moving to San Diego. Cody is one of our animal keepers at Lions Tigers & Bears. He sums up his job as "making the animals happy." He conducts general husbandry, feeding, cleaning, watering, operant conditioning, offering enrichment, and spending time with the animals to ensure they are having their needs met so that they can have a life full of stimulation and pleasure. "My favorite part of being a member of team Lions Tigers & Bears is knowing that I'm making a difference in the lives of previously-neglected animals, and am able to help provide them the life of dignity, respect, and love that many of them were denied in their "former" lives. I like working at Lions Tigers & Bears because it is easy to see how happy the animals are on a day-to-day basis. Whether it's the tigers splashing in their pools and running free, the mountain lions purring to us, or the bears foraging through their habitats for fruits and veggies, there is no shortage of smile-inducing sights everyday."
Lyndsey Nayfack - Volunteer Administrator

Lyndsey Nayfack

Volunteer Administrator
lyndsey

Lyndsey Nayfack

Volunteer Administrator

Hello friends, my name is Lyndsey Nayfack. I have a bachelor's degree in Sociology from San Diego State University. Go Aztecs! My professional experience prior to working at Lions Tigers & Bears consists of case management for adults with developmental disabilities, behavioral specialist within various school districts in East County, and working in VIP services and sales for Live Nation. My role at Lions Tigers & Bears is the "Volunteer Administrator" which generally consists of recruiting/onboarding our wonderful volunteers, organizing outreach events, facilitating volunteer orientations, scheduling, and assisting with Lions Tigers & Bears' special events. My favorite part about working at Lions Tigers & Bears is the serene mountain escape, hearing the lions roar throughout the day, and knowing that what I do here makes a difference in the lives of our rescued animals.


 
Josephine Pantangco - Bookkeeper

Josephine Pantangco

Bookkeeper
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Josephine Pantangco

Bookkeeper
Josephine has more than 20 years of bookkeeping and accounting experience, having worked in various roles managing organizations and companies financial needs. Josephine brings her expertise in accounting and a positive attitude to Lions Tigers & Bears each day as she helps us with all aspects of financial accounting and bookkeeping. Basically, Josephine helps us keep the lights on, the bills paid, and everything in between. Josephine enjoys being part of the well-rounded team that makes up our sanctuary workforce. When asked who her favorite Lions Tigers & Bears animal is she states "My first love was Maverick - my favorite tiger. He was so sweet and a fond memory was that he was so happy and each morning he escorted me on my walk from the parking lot to the office.  But of course I also love the mission of Lions Tigers & Bears and the teamwork of all animal keepers, staff and volunteers, with  Bobbi's leadership, these are the main reasons why I choose to work at the sanctuary."
Rebekah Sabatini - Animal Keeper/Veterinary Assistant/Gift Shop Coordinator

Rebekah Sabatini

Animal Keeper/Veterinary Assistant/Gift Shop Coordinator
Rebekah Sabatini

Rebekah Sabatini

Animal Keeper/Veterinary Assistant/Gift Shop Coordinator
Rebekah graduated from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania with a psychology major and biology minor, focusing her studies on animal behavior. She has worked, volunteered, and interned at numerous animal care facilities in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and even South Africa. With her passion for big cats in mind she began volunteering at Lions Tigers & Bears after moving to San Diego, where her outstanding talents were quickly utilized in a variety of ways.
 
Not long after that, she was hired on as a keeper and also assists with managing the onsite gift shop.
Kathleen Stafford - Donor Services

Kathleen Stafford

Donor Services
kathleen stafford

Kathleen Stafford

Donor Services
Kathleen Stafford has a background in Business Administration and Accounting. Her past professional experience has included Executive Administrative Support and Finance. She joined the Lions Tigers & Bears team in May 2020, to support our Donor Services. Kathleen processes all incoming donations, manages our donor database records and provides impeccable customer service to our sanctuary visitors and guests. Kathleen enjoys assisting our donors and making sure they know how much their donations and gifts are appreciated by sanctuary staff and the animals we care for. Her favorite animal at the sanctuary is one of our office cats named Blink.
Dr. Jane Meier, DVM - Lead Veterinarian

Dr. Jane Meier, DVM

Lead Veterinarian
Dr. Jane Meier, DVM

Dr. Jane Meier, DVM

Lead Veterinarian
Dr. Meier grew up in Minnesota and Indiana with a variety of animals from frogs to horses. Jane knew since the third grade that she wanted to be a veterinarian when she wrote an essay on what she wanted to do when she grew up.
 
After graduating from Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Meier completed a 16 month internship in zoological medicine at the San Diego Zoo. She then stayed on the staff of the Zoological Society of San Diego for 13 years as an associate veterinarian.
 
After leaving the zoo, Dr. Meier opened her house call practice concentrating on exotic animals. This included providing veterinary care to several non-profit wildlife or exotic animal organizations including Lions Tigers and Bears. She has been in practice over 40 years. Recently Dr. Meier semi retired continuing her work with the non-profits as a way to give back and stay involved.
Dr. Garfinkel - DVM

Dr. Garfinkel

DVM
Dr. Garfinkle

Dr. Garfinkel

DVM
Dr. Garfinkel is a graduate of the highly regarded College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. She has been practicing in the East San Diego County area since 2000, and has built a reputation of providing high quality and compassionate care. 
Dr. Ryan Sadler - DVM, Diplomate ACZM

Dr. Ryan Sadler

DVM, Diplomate ACZM
Dr. Ryan Sadler

Dr. Ryan Sadler

DVM, Diplomate ACZM
Originally from Southern California, Ryan achieved a B.S. in Zoology from the University of California Santa Barbara before moving north and earning his doctorate from the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He continued his training at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine first as an intern, then continuing as a Resident in Zoological Medicine and Surgery.
 
While in Tennessee, he provided veterinary care for a variety of facilities, including the Knoxville Zoo, Tiger Haven, Appalacian Bear Rescue, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, and other zoo and wildlife organizations. For the third and final year of his residency program, Ryan came back to Southern California to work at the San Diego Zoo, and then earned his specialty certification as a Diplomate in the American College of Zoological Medicine.
 
After providing veterinary care at the San Diego Zoo, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and other California facilities, Ryan settled in the San Diego area and currently works at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, in addition to providing care for the animals at Lions, Tigers, and Bears. He routinely consults with other zoos and sanctuaries on a variety of cases, particularly exotic carnivores.
Dr. Allison Woody - DVM, DAVDC

Dr. Allison Woody

DVM, DAVDC
Dr Allison Woody DVM

Dr. Allison Woody

DVM, DAVDC
Dr. Woody was raised in rural Colorado where she was surrounded by pets, livestock, and wildlife. In college, she did a student exchange to the University of Hawaii where she whole-heartedly embraced marine life as well.  Dr. Woody completed both her bachelors and veterinary medicine degrees at Colorado State University. After practicing in the Denver area for five years, she relocated to San Diego County in 2004. Dr. Woody completed a residency program and is a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College.  She is a published author, and has lectured at local and national conferences.
Dr. Woody currently works to provide excellent oral care for pets at Pacific Coast Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery in Encinitas, CA. Outside of that, she supports regional shelters, zoos, aquariums, and sanctuaries by providing oral care for their animals as well.  Dr. Woody also travels with a unique team that offers dental care for elephants, rhino, giraffe, walrus, hippo, and other megavertebrates around the world.
When she is not working, Dr. Woody enjoys being outdoors in San Diego or traveling with her husband and son.