It started as a fairly early morning for me. Charging camera batteries and packing gear then driving about 50 miles out to the country, to Lions, Tigers & Bears (LTB). LTB is an animal sanctuary in the east county foothills of San Diego County, Alpine, California, best known for it's large cats and bears rescue efforts. Even as I am writing this, the founder, Bobbi Brink and her assistants are on a cross-country effort to rescue 4 black bears from different states to relocate them to new forever homes, where they will live comfortably in their new habitats with the proper care they deserve.
I met up this particular morning with Animal Keeper, Brian Williams. Brian was my wonderful guide and I could see the animals looked forward to his visits. As he drove us out to the fields, the horses came running up to us. The horses are rescues and now live happily in the sanctuary. Something I was not aware of! Yes, they have also rescued domestic animals.
There are several domestic animals on the property. Some are rescues and some are intentional for land maintenance. LTB sits on a large farm acreage in fire country. It is imperative that the land and underbrush remain clear and clean to reduce the risk of fire. That's where these guys come in:
The llamas, Frick & Frack, run this show. The goats and sheep follow willingly and even frantically, when they get separated. I watched as Brian herded them from one enclosure to an open field enclosure. It was just a matter of convincing Frick & Frack to go... the others followed happily along. These nibblers are an invaluable asset at maintaining the grounds and keeping them safer from fire hazards. I never even considered the amount of money that must be required for land maintenance ALONE, not to mention the care of the rescue animals. (I am not certain that some of these animals are not rescues themselves!)
There are even cattle on the property. Although a bit more skittish than the other animals, they have run of a large amount of the beautiful property.
The work that is done here, at LTB, by employees and volunteers is done with heart. These people really care about the animals in their keep and animals in general. Their work is funded by donations and events. Many of these animals come to them with heart-breaking stories. One that touches me most is Maverick's story.
I first met Maverick in January 2015, when he was just about a year old. (You can read about that visit here: Lions, Tigers & Bears )
He was just a baby really... very kitten-like in his behavior, despite the fact he was already pushing 200 pounds! He was purchased as an advertising element by a well known rapper. Used as a photo prop and advertising accessory until he was confiscated by the California Fish & Game department. The owner did not have a license for him. This beautiful and endangered animal, who knows nothing of wildlife behavior, having been raised in captivity, is now relegated to a life behind chain-link fencing. At just about 3 years old and 500 pounds, he still begs to petted by rubbing his massive head against the fencing. Sadly, a well-to-do famous rapper has contributed no money or goods for Maverick's care now that he is done with him. I am tempted to call him out by name, but I won't do that here. If you want, you can find this information here: TMZ News Story
The sweet Maverick, who happily came running when Brian called him, will live out his 20+ more years here in a safe, but fenced enclosure. He is one of the lucky ones to have the habitat, medical facilities and food provided by this caring organization and the donating public.
YOU CAN HELP! You can help support this wonderful organization with donations and also have fun by attending their events! They frequently have events to help raise money for their animals. Check out their event calendar here: LTB Event Calendar
Your donations and contributions will help Maverick and these other animals thrive. More importantly, your contributions enable Lions, Tigers & Bears to continue with their honorable work helping all animals.
You can follow LTB and their work on their FB page here: Lions, Tigers & Bears