June 24, 2014 (Greenwich, NY): Let the New York Bear rescue begin!
Five days, ten states and nearly 3,000 miles later, the Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue team arrived in New York on Monday in their state of the art animal rescue hauler. A few winding roads through the woods later, the team arrived bright and early at the rescue site, welcomed by New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials, USDA officials, the private owner of the "zoo" and Hannah Shaw, Director of the nonprofit group, Rock to the Rescue. The six bears: Sasha, Sebastian, Dasha, Dora, Diego and Darwin, were living together in the small private backyard "zoo". Sasha (female, age 6) and Sebastian (male, age 7) are the parents of Dasha and Dora (females, age 3). Diego and Darwin are males, both around 6 years of age.
Bobbi and the Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue Team spent the morning coaxing each of the six bears into their individual transfer cages. One by one each bear was loaded into their transfer cage and then sedated with the assistance of the New York veterinary team. After sedation, each individual bear underwent a baseline medical examination which included a physical and dental exam, blood and stool sample analysis, immunizations and micro-chipping. All bears appeared to be in good health. After the completion of their exam, each was loaded back into their transfer cage, where they were able to recover from the sedative and rest up for the following day's journey. The team spent nearly twelve hours at the rescue site, transferring and providing medical to the six bears.
Earlier in the month, DEC officials served the owner of the small backyard zoo a court order to relinquish the bears due to permitting reasons. With no contingency plan in place, and time quickly running out, the bears were scheduled to be euthanized on June 6th by state officials. Through the quick action and collaboration of Lions Tigers & Bears, The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) in Keenesburg, Colorado, the national non-profit group Rock to the Rescue, and a generous grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), these bears were spared their unfair death sentence.
The private owner was very cooperative with the rescue team and officials. The owner had previously reached out for help in the past several years to find reputable homes for the six bears, only to be turned away time and time again. Reputable and accredited sanctuaries across the U.S. are stretched thin due to multiple factors, from financial restraints, to space and staffing. It is extremely difficult for such sanctuaries to keep up with the demand placed upon them to provide lifetime care for these captive exotic animals.
Bears live up to thirty years in captivity, eat twenty pounds a day and can cost upward of $10,000 per year to provide just the "bear" necessities.
June 25, 2014 (Fredonia, NY): Detour to save more lives
While in New York, Bobbi Brink received a call from New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials about a case involving three privately held exotics - a mountain lion, black bear and serval. The DEC had orders to seize the three animals being kept at the private residence near Buffalo, New York on Wednesday, June 25th. Rather than euthanize the animals, the DEC requested for Bobbi to rescue the animals. Being that she and the rescue team were already in the area, it only made sense. Three more captive exotic animals' lives were able to be saved on this cross-country rescue!
The exotic trio includes Kira, a six-year-old female mountain lion, Skittles, a thirteen-year-old spayed female black bear, and Shaka, a six or seven year old male serval.
Bobbi and the Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue Team traveled to the Fredonia, New York residence Wednesday morning, accompanied by DEC officials. All three animals were provided medical care and loaded into transport cages to make the journey to their new home at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS). The owners of the three animals were very cooperative with authorities. The couple, like the private owner in Greenwich, explained that they, too, had tried to find a more suitable home for their three animals, only to be turned away. This is a recurring dilemma that private owners of exotics face across the U.S. The owners find themselves in deep water, with no means for escape and it is the animal that ends up suffering. Luckily, for this upstate New York couple, their animal seizure resulted in a happy alternative ending for their three exotics.
The Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue Team will be dropping the exotic trio off at TWAS, on the way back to California with the Greenwich bears.
June 28, 2014 (Keenesburg, Colorado): Kira, Skittles, and Shaka arrive at their new home!
The Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue team arrived at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) in Keenesburg, Colorado after driving 1,800 miles from Fredonia, New York where they rescued three additional captive exotic animals - Kira the mountain lion, Skittles the black bear, and Shaka the African serval - that were seized by New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials.
These three privately held exotics were extremely lucky to get a second chance.
The Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue team was greeted by Pat Craig and his sanctuary team, along with a pack of four legged helpers! Kira, Skittles and Shaka were unloaded from Lions Tigers & Bears' rescue hauler and transferred to their temporary quarantine areas. The TWAS crew helped Bobbi and the rescue team clean out the rescue hauler for the rest of the journey home with the six Greenwich bears. In just a matter of a few hours, both sanctuary crews bid each other farewell and the Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue team hit the road again with just 1,200 miles left to go!
The Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue team will be returning to TWAS at the end of the summer when they load up the rescue hauler one more time with all six Greenwich bears and transport them back to the Colorado sanctuary, where they will spend the rest of their days. In the meantime all six bears will undergo a medical quarantine at Lions Tigers & Bears' sanctuary and enjoy their San Diego stay!
June 30, 2014 (Alpine, California): Through the prairie, mountains, desert and finally home!
Twelve days, 15 states and 6,000+ miles later, Bobbi and the Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue team arrived at Lions Tigers & Bears with the six Greenwich, NY bears in tow. It was an epic rescue that exemplifies how quick action and collaboration can pay off - and in this case save nine lives! A huge thank you goes out to our collaborative partners : The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Rock to the Rescue and the ASPCA for working together to make this rescue a reality.
Sasha, Sebastian, Diego, Darwin, Dasha and Dora were very happy when the rescue hauler came to a halt and the team opened the hauler doors to reveal the sights, sounds, and smells of their new temporary home! Each bear was rolled out of the rescue hauler and into their new temporary medical quarantine habitat. It was an amazing site to see each bear take that first step out of their transfer cage and into their new home. To be able to watch them feel dirt beneath their paws for the very first time was absolutely extraordinary. Once settled in, all six bears were fed a wholesome diet of fresh fruits, veggies and special peanut butter and honey sandwiches. They especially enjoy the crunch of romaine lettuce!
This bear family of six will spend the summer at Lions Tigers & Bears to undergo their medical quarantine and then will be loaded up in the rescue hauler one final time and driven the 1,200 miles to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado by Bobbi and the Lions Tigers & Bears Rescue team. A long journey for six captive bred black bears, but none the less a "beary" happy ending!