Zoos & Wildlife

Wildlife up close.

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

Visit the Big Bear Alpine Zoo featuring a collection of over 160 animals on display representing 80 species. Meet the zoo's premier residents, like the grizzly bear family, a three-legged bear named Hucklebeary, and two mountain lions. Unusual inhabitants include wood bison, fishers, ringtail cat and coatimundi. When you visit the zoo, you'll also see wildlife native to the Big Bear area, such as mule deer, grey fox, coyote, bobcat and raccoon. Other features include a reptile room and bald eagles exhibit.

It’s always intriguing to visit the zoo to see animals up close including grizzly bears, which are the zoo’s most popular residents. Big Bear Alpine Zoo is one of only two zoos in California that offer a grizzly bear exhibit, the other is in Fresno. The San Diego Zoo, Southern California’s most popular zoo, does not even have grizzlies, but these goliath bears are definitely found in Big Bear. The grizzlies are actually a family of bears that were transported from Yellowstone National Park because of their precarious behavior in the National Park. Big Bear’s grizzlies are the only family of grizzlies in captivity. The names of the bears are Tutu (the mother) and her off spring Ayla and Harley. Big Bear is proud to have these bears because Big Bear got its name from actual grizzly bears that once roamed the mountain range pre 1900’s.

Other distinguished inhabitants at the zoo are the black bears. There are four different black bears that have all been rescued. They have all become permanent residents because they are unable to fend for themselves and cannot be released back into the wild. The black bears are Zuni (the oldest of the bunch), Hucklebeary (a three-legged bear with lots of charm), Hollybeary (the only female black bear), and Pooh (the darkest fur and biggest appetite). Each bear has unique personality that makes viewing these bears a pleasing experience.

Some other residents of Big Bear Zoo that are a must see include a pack of wolves, mountain lions, grey and red foxes, bobcats, mule deer, porcupine, and raccoons. Some of the more unusual inhabitants include wood bison, fishers, ringtail cat, and coatimundi. Other features include a reptile room, birds sanctuary and bald eagles exhibit.

A stroll around the zoo’s grounds makes for a perfect afternoon outing with family or friends. The fascinating animals are bound to keep everyone amazed from toddlers to grandparents. Both guided and self-guided tours are available and provide an excellent first-hand look into mountain wildlife and the delicate balance of nature.

Every day at noon animal keepers gives a presentation about the animal of the day. The keepers share information about the animal’s history and interesting facts about the animal, such as where they come from, what they eat and how they live in the wild. This is a great opportunity to learn about the animals that reside at Big Bear Alpine Zoo.

Another program that happens daily is feeding tours at 3 p.m. This tour is especially interesting because visitors get to see exactly what each animals’ diet consist of. Animal keepers go from pen to pen and explain why certain animals eat certain food.

Other programs of interest are the Flashlight Safaris that happen every Saturday in October and behavioral enrichment. Both of these programs show visitors the playful and lively side of these animals.

The zoo hosts various events throughout the year, too. Some of the more popular events are the Big Bear Alpine Zoo Photography Contest, Old Time Bear County Fair, Blues for the Zoo Concert, Ice Cream Safari, Run for the Grizzlies, Wolf Awareness Day, Flashlight Safaris and Boo in the Zoo.

Big Bear Alpine Zoo, formerly the Moonridge Animal Park, is one of only two alpine zoos in the United States. The other one is in Colorado Springs called the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The difference between the two alpine zoos is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is similar to the San Diego Zoo or Los Angeles Zoo with animals from around the world and from many diverse regions such as jungles and savannahs. Big Bear Alpine Zoo however, is the only zoo in the U.S. that strictly features alpine wildlife. In fact, a good portion of the wildlife refuge residents are from the San Bernardino Mountains.

Another component that makes Big Bear Alpine Zoo unique is it is a wildlife refuge that has been saving wildlife since 1959. It is a wildlife rehabilitation center and sanctuary for injured, orphaned, and endangered alpine species until they can be returned to their natural habitat. The main goal is to always find ways to release rescued animals back to the wild. However, there are times when animals are not able to fend for themselves or they become too dependent on humans.

Big Bear Alpine Zoo is located at 43285 Goldmine Drive, just across the street from Bear Mountain Ski Resort. The zoo is indeed an attraction worth seeing, and is priced very reasonable for a low-cost family adventure. The zoo is open daily, weather permitting.

Baldwin Stables Petting Zoo

For the kids that want to get an experience by touching animals than head over to Baldwin Lake Stables and Petting Zoo were kids can feed and pet goats, sheep, llamas, bunny rabbits and chickens. It’s a fun time and makes for great photo opportunities with kids right in middle with these friendly animals. It’s a great family outing for all. Baldwin Lake Stables and Petting Zoo also offer horseback riding, guided horseback tours and pony rides for the tiny tots.