San Diego’s Secret Garden: Exploring Our Sanctuary’s Natural Habitat

By: Bobbi Brink

Lions Tigers & Bears is an exotic animal sanctuary and educational facility in beautiful San Diego. It sits on 142 acres of land situated on the edge of Cleveland National Forest and features majestic oak trees, rolling hills, and meadows. This provides a perfect and natural habitat for over 60 domestic and exotic animals rescued from neglectful or abusive situations across the county. At LTB, these animals finally have a chance to live out their lives with dignity and peace, surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of their natural home.

Lions Tigers & Bears: Making a Difference

Animals in captivity generally lack the skills to survive in the wild. They’re also often too used to human contact, which makes them vulnerable to poachers. In most cases, releasing them in the wild is not in their best interest.

Like any reputable and accredited animal rescue organization, we understand how important it is for the animals to live in their natural habitats. But we also know that once an animal is taken from the wild, it would be dangerous to assume it could be released without adding to the misery.

That’s why we consistently raise awareness of animal welfare and preserving wild environments. However, factors like habitat loss, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade continue to threaten the well-being of numerous species.

Today, there are millions of wild animals in captivity. Roadside zoos and other unaccredited facilities exploit animals for profit, whether it’s entertainment, breeding, or illegal trade. And the worst part is they fail to provide the necessary care and environment for their well-being.

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Tigers, lions, bears, monkeys, snakes, and elephants are not meant to live in captivity. It’s unnatural and against the captive animal welfare standards. When animals are locked in small, inadequate enclosures and without opportunities for physical and mental stimulation, they become stressed and bored, causing them to exhibit abnormal behaviors.

Yet, circus animals spend about 96% of their lives in chains or cages. World Animal Protection also reports there are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild. Asia, for example, has 200 tiger breeding facilities housing up to 8000 tigers. These tigers are usually exploited for their body parts.

But sanctuaries provide a stark contrast to such distressing realities. Lions Tigers & Bears for instance:

  • Acquires animals out of necessity. Most of the animals in our care were rescued from unfortunate circumstances. When you visit LTB, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the individual stories of each resident, understand the challenges they faced, and learn about our role in their rehabilitation.
  • Prioritizes the ethical treatment and well-being of the animals in their care. Our focus is on providing a dignified and peaceful life for animals rescued from neglectful or abusive situations. During your visit, you’ll witness animals living in naturalistic animal habitats, free from the stress of performances or unnatural behaviors.
  • Has education as a core mission. Our visitors get to engage in informative tours, workshops, and presentations that highlight the benefits of wildlife rescue, the challenges faced by animals in the wild, as well as responsible wildlife tourism.

Our Commitment to Creating Natural Habitats for the Residents

LTB is a model sanctuary, providing the highest standard of care for rescued animals. Our San Diego animal sanctuary is home to over 60 animals and 19 species, including lions, tigers, grizzly bears, Himalayan and American black bears, African servals, leopards, mountain lions, bobcats, horses, llamas, chickens, goats, peacocks, a miniature horse, miniature donkey, macaw and more. And each one of these species has a home that replicates their natural habitat.


Here’s a brief overview of our species-specific habitats:


Our bear habitats are designed to mirror the diverse environments that different bear species inhabit. We have created spacious enclosures with various natural elements, including trees, rocks, and pools, allowing our bears to engage in activities such as climbing, foraging, and swimming. These environments promote physical exercise and mental stimulation, contributing to the overall well-being of our bear residents.

Lions and Tigers

Lions and tigers require ample space for roaming and opportunities to express their natural behaviors. At LTB, our lion and tiger habitats are carefully crafted to provide expansive areas with lush vegetation, elevated platforms for climbing, and hiding spots for shade and privacy. These habitats allow these big cats to exhibit their natural hunting and territorial behaviors, promoting a sense of security and comfort.

Servals and Leopards

Servals and leopards have distinct needs, and our habitats for these species are tailored to accommodate their preferences. We incorporate features like tall grasses, trees, and elevated platforms to mimic their natural environments. These habitats provide opportunities for stalking, climbing, and resting, allowing servals and leopards to express their natural instincts.

Horses, Llamas, Chickens, and Goats

Domestic animals like horses, llamas, chickens, and goats also find a safe haven at LTB. We ensure that their enclosures provide ample space for grazing, shelter for protection from the elements, and opportunities for social interactions. Our commitment extends beyond exotic species to include the well-being of domestic animals, recognizing their unique needs and behaviors.

Beyond the Basics


Our dedication to natural habitats goes beyond physical structures. We strive to create an environment that nourishes the animals' physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Witnessing them rediscover their natural behaviors – foraging, playing, socializing – is the ultimate reward for our efforts.

Habitat Variety

We understand the importance of providing diverse environments that cater to the specific needs and preferences of each species. Our habitats encompass a range of features such as varying topography, vegetation, and water elements, ensuring a dynamic and stimulating living space for our animals.

Controlled Introductions

We implement controlled introduction protocols when integrating animals into shared spaces. This careful approach allows for gradual acclimatization, reducing stress and promoting positive social interactions. Our goal is to foster a sense of community and companionship among compatible residents.

Minimizing Human Interference

Our approach to ethical wildlife observation emphasizes respect for the animal's natural behaviors and environments. That’s why we encourage visitors to observe from designated areas, allowing the residents to express their instincts without unnecessary disruptions. LTB adheres to a strict NO TOUCH rule. 

Food Puzzles

Enrichment programs play a significant role in keeping our residents mentally stimulated. Food puzzles are one aspect of our enrichment strategy, where we incorporate challenges and puzzles into mealtime. This not only provides physical activity as animals work to access their food but also engages their problem-solving skills, mirroring the challenges they might face in the wild.


Sensory Stimuli

Sensory stimulation is an integral part of our enrichment programs. We create environments that engage multiple senses, including sight, sound, and smell. This can involve introducing scents, sounds of nature, or novel objects into the habitats, encouraging our residents to explore and interact with their surroundings.

Harnessing the Positive Impact of Your Purchase Power

When you choose to support a compassionate sanctuary like Lions Tigers & Bears with your visit, social media mention, or financial contribution, you’re making a meaningful impact that extends far beyond our gates.

Your support reflects the values you hold dear – values that prioritize the welfare of these animals and contribute to the broader goal of wildlife preservation. It directly fuels our care, rehabilitation, and advocacy efforts. Your purchase power is a catalyst for positive change. Choose to support our Alpine animal sanctuary, and let your purchase power be a force for positive change.

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