When Big Bear Alpine Zoo opened in 1959, it wasn't a zoo at all. It was a makeshift rehabilitation center for animals affected by a devastating fire that ripped through the San Bernardino National Forest. Among the facility's first residents were two bobcats and an orphaned 30-pound baby black bear.
Since then, the operation has stood as a safe haven for injured, orphaned, and imprinted wild animals. While the zoo is home to a variety of animals that cannot be released back into the wild as they would not be able to
survive, most of the animals that are brought in for rehabilitation can be released. In fact, 90% of the zoo's animals get released back into the wild once they're healthy enough. Today, Big Bear Alpine Zoo is home to more than 85 species, including foxes, eagles, and yes, even bears. Weather permitting, visitors can visit the zoo's residents throughout the year except for Christmas Day. Visitors can get involved in the zoo's efforts by volunteering, becoming a member, or bringing in items from the wish list, saving the animals a trip to the grocery store.