SeAnna VanBrunt, Tiger Technician Extraordinaire
What a special treat for these veterinary technicians – not your usual everyday animal patient – Who would have thought these gals would be kissing and caressing a tiger today?
Well, that is exactly what happened when Natasha, resident tiger of Lions Tigers and Bears, a wildlife sanctuary located in Alpine, California booked her appointment. She came in for a “tigerectomy”. Natasha had cysts on her ovaries and was here to have a literal ovarian hysterectomy. In good hands at Veterinary Surgical Specialty Group in Kearny Mesa, Natasha survived her procedure and recovered with flying colors. Thanks at least partly to the “kit gloves” she received from her caring veterinary technicians, SeAnna VanBrunt and Katie Hassell.
Katie Hassell, Tiger Technician Extraordinaire
These lucky professionals are both from Coronado. SeAnna VanBrunt is the Referral Coordinator for the VCA North Coast Animal Hospital and has lived in Coronado with her daughter, Kadence, for several years. She hails from Salt Lake City, and after visiting our lovely emerald isle, packed up her life and settled here. Katie Hassell is the daughter of long-time resident, Kathy Campbell and is a veterinary technician at Veterinary Surgical Specialty Group. Together they prepared and assisted Natasha, the Tiger, on this her very special day.
TALK TO THE PAW!
Natasha is a Bengal Tiger. She was born on September 5, 1997 and weighs 350 pounds. She became a full-time resident at Lions Tigers & Bears* in Alpine in September 2002. She was brought to LTB with Raja, her mate. “We thought there was a possibility that she was pregnant. With the stress of the move and her deplorable previous living conditions, we were worried about her health. She soon began showing small belly bulges, and started to look and feel much better. At the height of her pregnancy, she looked like she had a bowling ball on each side of her belly! On November 8, 2002, Natasha gave birth to two beautiful girl cubs, named Tabu and Sitarra (AKA “the Girls”). Natasha was a perfect mom to these two girls and they have all flourished. Natasha now spends her days lounging in and on her den, splashing in her pool (she loves splashing her caretakers when they walk by), and playing with her toys. She is also very vocal when it comes to food. We have yet to find anything that Natasha won’t eat – she loves all foods.
Raised with Raja in a small enclosure in Texas, without affection, without any hope. if she had not had her mate, Raja, she may not have survived.
Raja, Natasha’s mate is also a Bengal Tiger. He was born on September 5, 1996 and weighs 550 pounds. Raja and Natasha both came to Lions Tigers & Bears from Texas in September 2002. Their previous owner had kept both of these full-grown Bengal Tigers in a 6′ x 12′ cage with no shade or shelter. They had spent their entire lives in that small enclosure stepping over each other just to turn around.
Raja’s owner was unwilling to give the cats up to the authorities nor was he willing to provide adequate protection for these beautiful cats. After much coaxing, he was finally persuaded to give Raja and Natasha to Lions Tigers & Bears. The authorities gave Lions Tigers & Bears one month to get the cats moved. In less than one month, LTB was able to raise two-thirds of the money necessary to build a suitable enclosure, construct a new home for Raja and Natasha, obtain all the necessary permits, and transport both cats from Texas to Southern California.
Since acclimating to his new surroundings, Raja has made himself at home. Raja was neutered on March 28, 2003 so that he can continue living with Natasha. He loves playing in his pool, splashing and batting his ball around. Raja is affectionate, sociable, and loves to be the center of attention.
Raja and Natasha now have the opportunity to run and play in our exercise area, Tiger Trails. Raja loves to play in the cool grass with Natasha and splash around in the pool. Raja’s favorite food is turkey.
*THE STORY OF LIONS TIGERS & BEARS
Lions Tigers & Bears is a federally and state licensed non-profit 501(c)(3) rescue facility dedicated to providing a safe haven for unwanted and abused exotic cats. We are one of only twelve Big Cat Sanctuaries in the U.S. We are a NO KILL, NO BREED, NO SELL rescue and educational facility that allows cats in our care the opportunity to live out their lives with dignity in a caring and safe environment. Our goal is to provide a safe haven to rescued cats and to educate the public about the growing population of abandoned and unwanted exotic animals and where they come from.
Our primary concerns are for the health and comfort of our cats and the safety of those who share these precious natural resources. We will protect and provide these animals with a lifetime home realizing that environment, exercise, and personal attention are key to their well being. Every attempt will be made to provide healthy diets, medical care, immunizations, and whatever else is necessary for the physical and psychological welfare of each animal in our care.
In addition to our current family of cats, others in need of medical aid and rest are welcome to this facility, limited only by the extent to which we are able to provide adequate help, shelter, and safety. Our principal obligation is to our rescued cats, but we are concerned with the welfare of all captive big cats.
Sadly, in many areas of the United States, there are countless unwanted, abused, and abandoned big cats in captivity. In fact, the number of animals bred and born in captivity is greater than that in the wild. In most cases, cats born in captivity must endure horrific neglect and abuse due to the immense responsibility in their upkeep. In many states big cats, most commonly lions, tigers, cougars, and bobcats are acquired by roadside zoos and then eventually become surplus animals, are retired from entertainment, are purchased as pets when young, or are sold and bred for profit.
There are far too many stories of abuses suffered by captive cats. The most common is neglect and for this there should be no excuse. A large cat, be it bobcat, serval, leopard, lion, or tiger cannot be a pet. Many people do not realize that in many states a baby lion or tiger can be bought just as you would buy a pet dog or cat. What starts out as a novelty — that cute, little 10-pound cub — soon turns into a 500-pound wild animal that is expensive to manage and dangerous to have in your home.
How many tigers live this sort of terrible life? We believe there are about 10,000 exotic cats living in captivity in this country, bought and sold through this exotic animal trade – and remember, only about 5,000 are left in the wild! There are more tigers in backyards across this country than in all the zoos together. The exotic animal trade is a 17-billion-dollar-a-year industry, second only to drugs and weapons. These exploited Big Cats are crassly used for silly entertainment, and when they don’t sell tickets or make money anymore, they are dumped and desperately need places to live. Then the exploiters buy another young cat and the same sad cycle begins again. It’s so heartbreaking. LTB receives calls every week from people who need to find a home for exotic cats because they can no longer afford them or no longer want to care for them. Owners of these cats soon find out that zoos and sanctuaries, already filled to capacity, have no room for them. These throw-away Big Cats can live 20 years or more. Don’t they deserve a secure and happy lifetime home?
When our founder, Bobbi Brink is asked why she started LTB she often replies, “After witnessing the heart-breaking phenomenon known as the ‘exotic animal trade’ and seeing the victims of this business, I was compelled to do what I could to help these animals. I have spent many sleepless nights picturing the tortured lives these cats end up living. The disgusting places where these marvelous animals are kept – sometimes in places you would least expect, in miserable holding cells with no sunlight or windows, living in cages so small they barely have room to stand up or turn around. Many live in basements, never seeing sunlight or smelling fresh air. I have seen 10 or more cats crowded together in a small enclosure, where they restlessly pace in filth and fight each other for scraps of food — Some starve to death. A full grown exotic cat costs about $15.00 a day to feed ($450.00 a month-just for food!)”
Lions Tigers & Bears strives to:
Rescue a limited number of cats that have been abused, confiscated, or are in danger of being destroyed for lack of a suitable home and provide them with a permanent home.
Provide comfortable shelter, nutrition, health needs, and caring attention to the cats currently in our care.
Maintain a clean habitat for the animals using the highest safety standards.
Participate with others to help promote legislation to ensure captive cats receive responsible life-time homes, prevent the breeding of captive big cats without special purpose, and reduce the abuse that so many endure.
Arouse community interest and awareness. Educate the public about the plight of all cats both captive and wild by providing information about how we can help them survive.
Besides Tigers, These are Our Animals:
To animals born in captivity, and fated to be ignored and abused, we dedicate this organization.”
Bobbi Brink, Founder
African Lion – Male – Born: 3/16/2007 – Weight: 500 lbs.
Bakari came to us with his two sisters, Suri and Jillian, at the age of four weeks. We were contacted by the only big cat sanctuary in Louisiana. Due to overcrowding in their facility they were unable to keep the cubs. Lions Tigers & Bears stepped in and accepted all three lion cubs.
Bakari is definitely the “boy” of the litter. He is really laid back and lets his two sisters do all the work. He is definitely bigger than the “girls” when it comes to size. He is also much darker, and you can almost start to make out what will someday become the distinctive markings of a male lion.
Bakari was named by two of our wonderful supporters at Lions Tigers & Bears: Janice and Gary Freiberg. They bid to name him at the “Wild in the Country” fundraising event in June of 2007. After doing much research on African names, they narrowed it down to a list of five and finally chose Bakari. Bakari is an African expression which translates to “one with great promise”.
African Lion – Female – Born: 3/16/2007 – Weight: 357 lbs.
Jillian came to us with her sister Suri and brother Bakari at the age of four weeks. Like her sister and brother, Jillian has received daily training which included verbal commands. These commands help LTB staff to provide care.
Jillian was named at our Wild in the Country event when the highest bidder Robert Cox named the cub, Jillian, after his wife El Cajon City Councilwoman, Jillian Hanson-Cox. The name means “youthful” and “bright light” which he says depicts the personality of the cub and his wife alike.
African Lion – Female – Born: 3/16/2007 – Weight: 350 lbs.
Suri came to us with her sister Jillian and brother Bakari at the age of four weeks. Suri is a little smaller than Jillian and Bakari but is growing daily and might even catch up soon. She is the sweetest of the three and is very playful and loving.
Like her brother and sister, Suri was named at the Wild in the Country when Yvette Davis won the rights in an auction. What is unique in this instance, however, is that Yvette is one of our long-time volunteers and has been helping care for Suri since she was a cub. She just fell in love with Suri and wanted to contribute more than just her time.
Mountain Lion (also known as a “cougar,” “panther,” or “puma”) – Weight: 138 pounds.
Conrad was a young male caught in late 2006 (and tagged “502″) by California Fish & Game while roaming near an elementary school in Redlands. LTB adopted him so that he would not be euthanized. Because we had no enclosure for him at the time, he had to live in quarantine for several months while we constructed his habitat.
After a vigorous health examination, Conrad was finally moved to his new home. At first, he tended to spend most of his time inside his “cave” venturing outside only at night as mountain lions are naturally timid. But with the patient encouragement of his care-givers who spent hours each day talking and reading to him, he soon began to leave his cave to explore his new enclosure. Soon he was sleeping in his hammock, enjoying the huge logs which he claws to keep his nails trim, playing with his rubber ball, and relaxed in his waterfall pool. However, he’s still rather shy and emerges mostly at night and early in the morning.
Conrad adapted so well to his new home that we decided to teach him some important commands to help us better care for him. The first command he learned was to “go up” which means to stand on his hind legs and stretch his body up against the fence. This allows his care-givers to see the underside of his body to safely check for any problems without having to tranquilize him.
One of our long-term goals at LTB is to construct a “Conservation Station” to serve as a home for rescued Southern California wildlife such as mountain lions, foxes, owls, and others. This area will house animals that have been injured or caught because they might pose a threat to humans, and for whatever reason, cannot be returned to the wild.
This new facility will also include an Education Center providing programs to inform and instruct the public – and especially children – about animal conservation and living in harmony with our native species. As a very intelligent mountain lion, Conrad will be a superb ambassador for these programs once the Conservation Station is complete.
YOU HAVE ALREADY MET NATASHA AND RAJA, NOW PRESENTING THEIR OFFSPRING “THE GIRLS”:
Bengal Tiger – Born: 11/8/2002 – Weight: 300 lbs.
After rescuing Raja and Natasha, we discovered that Natasha was pregnant. Sitarra and her sister, Tabu, were born here at LTB November 8, 2002. Sitarra (which means “Star of India”) weighed just 2 lbs., 12 oz. at birth. She is incredibly intelligent and just like her sister, Tabu, has mastered commands such as sit, lay, stay, and come. These commands help us everyday to be able to work safely around these animals, and if we need to treat them, we have a safer way to achieve this goal.
Sitarra loves playing with her sister and is fascinated by people. She is usually the first to greet anyone who approaches their enclosure. She is more independent than Tabu but still loves her sister. You can usually find them cuddled up together sleeping or romping and playing. Sitarra and Tabu spend hours watching the farm animals at LTB. Sitarra is lighter in color, like her father Raja, and lazier than her sister.
Bengal Tiger – Born: 11/8/2002 – Weight: 300 lbs.
Tabu and Sitarra were conceived in Texas and born here at LTB in 2002. Tabu weighed 2 lbs., 7oz. at birth. Both girls live together in a habitat that includes a den, pool, toys, and room to rough house with each other. They love to play in their pool and show off for anyone paying attention. Tabu has shown great intelligence and has mastered the sit, lay, stay, up, and come commands. We do not train the cats to do tricks but rather to do certain commands so that we can safely work around and treat them if needed. We call Tabu our ‘circus cat’. If you watch her playing in her enclosure, she is always balancing on the edge of the pool. When resting, her paws are always hanging over the den or pool.
Since Tabu was a baby, she sleeps on top of Sitarra, even if it is just her paw resting on top of Sitarra. Tabu takes great comfort in having sister Sitarra around. Tabu was in need of a large area to run and play with her sister. In October 2008, thanks to our generous donors we were able to complete our Tiger Trails, a large habitat dedicated to letting our big cats run and play. This grass- covered habitat includes wooden platforms for jumping and shade from the sun and a large waterfall and pool for cooling off on a hot summer day. Sitarra and Tabu have enjoyed many days playing with each other in Tiger Trails.
Black Bear – Female – Born: July 4, 2009 – Weight: 96 lbs.
Liberty was brought to Lions Tigers & Bears on July 4, 2010 by Fish and Game Field Agent Kevin Brennan. Liberty was living in the Angeles National Forest and had to be removed because she had learned how to get food from the campers. Each year, yearling bears, like Liberty, leave their moms in search of food and their own territory. Many of these bears wander into camp grounds where their chances of survival are doomed. “A fed bear is a dead bear,” says Fish & Game Agent Brennan urging the public to use restraint, “Enjoy seeing the bears, take pictures, but please don’t interact with them or feed them.”
Once dependent on humans for food, these bears continue to frequent the campgrounds and become a danger to campers. At this point, Fish and Game is called in, and since most bears are not able to be re-located, they are euthanized. Each year 6 to 12 bears are euthanized due to human contact; but thankfully, Liberty’s story will turn out differently.
*Thanks to numerous donations and efforts, Liberty will soon have a lifetime home at Lions Tigers & Bears. She is already making herself at home in her temporary habitat. Liberty is an omnivore which means she eats meat, fruit, and vegetables. Her favorite foods are salmon, avocado, eggs, and anything sweet. Liberty loves to lounge around in her hammock and takes a dip in her pool to cool off.
*The “Black Bear Habitat” is now complete and Liberty is joined by Blossom and Delilah as well as The Three Little Bears.
Bob, Gizmo, RJ, and Mia
Bobcat – Male – Born: 2/20/1996 – Weight: 40 lbs.
Prior to being rescued by Lions, Tigers & Bears, Bob had been kept in a rabbit hutch for many years after being caught in the wild. He had bald bloody spots, was anemic, covered in fleas, unable to stand and all four of his canine (“fang”) teeth were broken off.
Fortunately, he has made a full recovery at LTB. He runs and jumps and plays and will always run down to greet you for food. Bob lives in the same enclosure as his fellow Bobcat Gizmo and their pal, Tuffy the Serval.
Bobcat – Male – Born: 5/20/99 – Weight: 38 lbs.
Gizmo is probably the smartest cat at LTB, and he knows it! He likes to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and especially loves trying to outsmart the volunteers. He came to us from Texas at the age of six weeks and has been “the boss” ever since. Gizmo has adjusted well to his new large enclosure. He is most active in early mornings and enjoys playing ball, lounging in the hammocks, and annoying his roommate, Tuffy the Serval. Gizmo’s favorite food is rabbit.
Bobcat – Male – Born: 3/8/2008 – Weight: 22 lbs.
A professional truck driver spotted RJ in the road while driving near the Los Angeles County town of Acton. The bobcat appeared near death and he brought it home thinking it was a domestic kitten. Once it was realized that the kitten was actually a bobcat, authorities were called, and a volunteer from the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach picked up the bobcat who then turned it over to Fund for Animals – an organization that rehabilitates and releases animals back to the wild. They determined that the cat had too much human contact and would not be safe if released and decided that the best future for this cat would be a lifetime home at Lions Tigers & Bears.
LTB caretakers are a bit skeptical of the trucker story in that RJ was very used to people and his physical characteristics did not resemble those of a local bobcat. The thought is that RJ was the result of needless breeding, a huge problem in the US. Nonetheless, he is fortunate to be at LTB — and lucky for this little guy, one of our very generous donors – Jillian Hanson-Cox – stepped up with a contribution which allowed us to keep RJ and give him a lifetime home. As an anniversary gift to her husband Robert Joseph Cox, Jillian named the new cat “R.J.”
Bobcat – Female
Recently Bobbi received a call from a man in Wyoming who needed to relinquish his pet bobcat, Mia, due to his ill health. He had no contingency plan for Mia and was unable to provide for her lif- time care and her transportation to Lions Tigers & Bears. Bobbi flew to Wyoming and rented a vehicle to transport Mia back to Alpine where she will lives her life being well cared for.
Mia’s owner kept her in his house as a pet and had to adjust his lifestyle to accept not being able to go on vacation, shredded curtains, scratched and clawed furniture, and scent marking in the entire house. This is a perfect example of why exotics do not make good personal pets. Mia will now have to make the adjustment to her outside habitat. We have great hope for her as we have already seen her jumping around, stalking birds, and watching Gizmo, Tuffy, and RJ who are soon to be her new friends.
The previous owner mentioned to Bobbi that even as much as he loved Mia, he felt that Wyoming really needs to stop issuing permits allowing these wild animals as pets. This is an issue that Lions Tigers & Bears has been working towards, and we will continue to push for legislation that prohibits the private ownership of wild animals.
Serval – Male – Born: 4/12/98 – Weight: 40 lbs.
Unlike most of our cats, Tuffy came from a good home where he was well cared for. Unfortunately, Tuffy’s owner passed away and he was taken to a facility in Texas. Due to the abundant number of cats already at this particular facility, LTB felt we could provide him with a much better home. A new enclosure was constructed here complete with large trees, lots of grass, boulders, a simulated creek bed, a small pool, dens, and lounging hammocks.
Tuffy and Gizmo the Bobcat were both introduced into their new enclosure at the same time and soon became friends. They love playing together although Gizmo is usually the instigator! Tuffy is very vocal when it comes to food and like Gizmo, rabbit is his favorite food.
Leopard – Born: 5/1/2004 – Weight: 80 lbs.
Conga had a rough start in life. She was a captive-bred pet that was abandoned by her previous owner at the age of five weeks. Fortunately, thanks to the support of our members, LTB was able to adopt her. Conga was moved into her new enclosure at the end of July, 2005 where she loves playing with her ball and climbing on numerous large rocks and logs. She has her own pool and waterfall and several hammocks to lounge in. Conga is clever, seemingly fearless, and has limitless energy. She loves to “perform” for any audience pulling off amazingly acrobatic moves with incredible grace.
Conga loves to have her caretakers squirt her with the hose on warm days. Looking into her gorgeous green eyes, you can see the sparkle of mischief, and her grin lets you know she is happy and appreciative of her lifetime home at LTB. Her favorite foods are beef bones and chicken.
HELP US HELP THE ANIMALS:
Lions Tigers & Bears is a grassroots, mostly volunteer organization, and we rely on the donations of members and local supporters for our annual budget – most of which goes to the animals. Animal care, administrative functions, and fundraising are done mostly by a dedicated group of over 100 volunteers. And we need your help !
There are many way you can assist Lions Tigers & Bears provide a high level of care for our rescued cats and other animals:
Bobbi Brink, Founder of LTB
Donate Through the S.D. Foundation
Purchase a Commemorative Brick
Donate a “Wish List” Item
Stay Overnight at White Oak’s Private Suite
Setup an Educational / Group Visit
Purchase LTB Merchandise
Donate a Vehicle
Become a Volunteer
YOU CAN ALSO:
Adopt a rescued animal
Set up a monthly donation through your bank
Sponsor a portion of an event
Apply for our Capital One credit card
Have your next party at Lions, Tigers, & Bears
Register your Ralph’s and Albertson’s card
Just call the office (619-659-8078), and we will tell you how.
And don’t forget to TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT US!
Remember, we are a 501(C)(3) nonprofit corporation, so your donations are tax-deductible.
LIONS TIGERS & BEARS SOCIAL CALENDAR 2012:
Instructions – All visits* are by appointment only and are included in all annual memberships for your membership year. Call (619) 659-8078 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation. Membership is required to visit us. Visitors and additional guests may take advantage of our Member-For-A-Day option. Call us for details at (619) 659-8078 for visiting hours.
September 21 – Wild Nights Camp Over
October 26 – Spooky Camp
November 17 – Thanksgiving Feast for the Big Cats & Bears
December 8 – Christmas Party
*Special events are included in some, but not all, annual memberships.
call (619) 659-8078 for more information.
Help Us Celebrate LTB Birthdays:
February 15 – Conrad (Mountain Lion)
February 20 – Bob (Bobcat)
March 8 – RJ (Bobcat)
March 16 – Bakari, Jillian, & Suri (African Lions)
April 12 – Tuffy (Serval)
May 1 – Conga (Leopard)
May 22 – Gizmo (Bobcat)
July 4 – Liberty (Black Bear)
September 5 – Raja & Natasha (Bengal Tigers)
November 8 – Sitarra & Tabu (Bengal Tigers)
*Many times when Lions Tigers & Bears rescues an animal, we receive very little information on their age, date of birth, etc. So we celebrate their birthday as the day that they arrived to Lions Tigers & Bears.
Lions Tigers & Bears Big Cat and Exotic Animal Rescue
24402 Martin Way
Alpine, CA 91901