If you haven’t been to the Big Bear Alpine Zoo in awhile, you should make a point to visit on your next trip to a Big Bear Lake cabin rental. Not only is it the only Zoo in San Bernardino County, it’s also one of only three alpine zoo’s in the country! In 1959 a forest fire devastated the National Forest and a few cages were erected in the zoo’s current location to rehabilitate and save an orphaned bear and two bobcats. A year later, plans were underway to make the zoo a permanent part of Moonridge and the Big Bear valley. Fast forward to today where the zoo has welcomed a new curator, formerly from the San Diego Zoo, and has plans to build a new facility to continue the important work of protecting and rehabilitating animals.
The Oxford Dictionary defines zoo as an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals, typically in a park or gardens, for study, conservation, or display to the public. Bob Cisneros, curator since March 2015, has been working hard to instill a sense of pride and passion to not only the keepers and their dedicated work, but also through educating the public. The animals that call the Big Bear Alpine Zoo their home have either been injured or have imprinted and lost their element of fear leaving them unable to return to the wild. Part of the zoo’s mission is to educate visitors about the uniqueness of the species, their habitat, what the zoo’s ambassadors are doing for the animals, the philosophy of enriching the lives of the animals and the zoo’s conservation efforts through rehabilitation and education.
Since Bob arrived, he has made it a point to practice evidence based health care. This means regular weights on the animals to monitor diet, health and activity levels. Some of the environments have had changes and now include climbing areas to encourage natural behaviors for both sleeping and hunting as you will notice when you see the cougars. Larger cages with varying levels of branches allows the ravens to take flight or roost. The raccoon’s can satisfy their curiosity with modified jars and lids, climbing structures and then retire to their cozy sleeping quarters. The keepers are encouraged to problem solve and come up with ways to improve the lives of the animals in their care through the Five Freedoms: Freedom from Hunger or Thirst, Freedom from Discomfort, Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease, Freedom to Express (most) Normal Behaviors, and Freedom from Fear and Distress.
What is really amazing is the work that happens behind the scenes. 90% of the animals brought in are successfully released back into the wild. A new flight rehabilitation cage was recently added for the birds, with more additions on the way.
The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a fun way to get up close to animals that are wild and found in the area, while learning about ways to prevent injury to not only the animals such as disposing of trash properly, but personal safety when out enjoying nature with your family. Protecting animal’s food sources, natural environment and keeping them safe from harm is the only way we can ensure they will be around for future generations. Through the years, zoos have played a vital roll in animal species conservation, but we can take steps in ensuring their well being in our daily lives and through support of their efforts.
You can show your support of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo by visiting on your next trip to a vacation rental in Big Bear Lake, adopting an animal for just $25 a year, or by donating through fundraising efforts such as the Run For The Grizzlies on September 12th. Consider becoming a Friend of The Big Bear Alpine Zoo with a yearly membership or higher level membership donation.
Plan your next visit to a cabin in Big Bear Lake and stop by for a Flashlight Safari on Saturday evenings in October, or visit on Wolf Awareness Day on October 17th, or Snow Leopard Day on October 24th. Follow the zoo on Facebook for all the events and to see the animals.
The zoo is open year round with special considerations during winter months. Parking is free and admission is just $12 for adults (ages 11+), $9.00 for kids and seniors (ages 3-10 and 60+) and kids under 2 are free. For more information visit their website at www.bigbearzoo.org or give them a call at (909) 584-1299. The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is located next to Bear Mountain at 43285 Goldmine Dr, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Plan your next trip to a Big Bear Lake cabin rental and stay at one of our pet friendly rentals, a cabin close to Bear Mountain or budget vacation rental. See all the animals our Big Bear cabin rentals are named after like Cougar Cottage, Eagle Flight Retreat, Hawks View or just sit back and relax at Lazy Bear Lodge! Tell our vacation experts you would like to be close to the zoo when booking your next getaway. Call (909) 752-0234. See you soon!