Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh yeah!

On New Year’s Eve we were lucky enough to ring in the New Year with quite the crowd: Lions, tigers, and bears. I had no, and I mean, zero, idea that there was a huge cat sanctuary a mere 20 minutes from my house until my friend Star told us all about it. The name of the sanctuary is, appropriately enough, Lions Tigers and Bears. The biology major/ wildlife lover in me knew we had to make a visit, and stat.

Lions Tigers and Bears

There are more exotic cats living in captivity than there are in the wild- estimates put the number in the US at 10,000. Raise your hand if you know of a private owner with a tiger who’s doing a good job of it. Anyone? Bueller? Thought so.

When these animals are neglected, abandoned, and confiscated from the fools who purchased them on a lark, they end up in sanctuaries like these.

This is one of the three lions giving my son the “Come closer, boy…cloooooser…….” look. ย  When he realized we weren’t falling for it, he turned around and sprayed us. I thought my cat smelled bad when he did that- try a lion who can get a 4 foot trajectory….Holy cow. I’ve never seen my 4 year old run so fast in his whole life. I realized this is exactly what I need for those door to door solicitors- a barrel of cat urine that sprays on command.ย 

In order to be approved by the USDA, there are very strict limits on how many of each kind of animal you can have, and how you take care of them. As you can see, the enclosures are double fenced: visitors on the outside, and workers can go up to the inner fence to poke pieces of chicken through on long barbecue forks.

The closest enclosure is covered on top, due to the resident leopard reputation as a fierce climber. The fence further away is the large play area where the lions and the tigers spend part of the day.

LTB has 4 resident tigers, each with a distinct personality.

Tiger nom

They definitely look forward to the ladies with the barbecue forks. That always portends something good.


My favorite of the tigers was the momma tiger, Natasha, who was unable to eat without making a delightful loud “NOMNOMNOMNOM” growl while chewing. She does it every time she eats. That is how I am with brownies. We are kindred spirits.


Conga is a beautiful leopard who was abandoned at the teensy age of 5 weeks. She has mastered the art of simultaneously crawling up chain link while grabbing treats to gnaw down.

It would be too long to type “Lions and Tigers and Servals and Bobcats and Chickens and Horses and Goats and Tomcats and Alpacas and Peacocks and Macaws and Bears” but I saw all of them at the sanctuary. I loved the macaw, you could tell he was a total character:

Macaw happy

“Slowly I turn, step by step…”

“And then the pirate leapt to the starboard bow…”

“And I fended the scalliwag off with me talons!”

Tom the cat

Tom the cat wins the award for most fearless feline of them all. Seriously, he strolled along the cages like a lilliputian king, ignoring the hungry rumbles and hoping for a wayward chicken bone to fly his way.

I love Bakari because he lies the exact same way Brody does. He’s obviously very comfortable in his surroundings. It’s good to be king.

I can’t wait to go back! I want to learn more about these guys and maybe if I’m really nice I can get to hold the barbecue fork.

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  • Lisa W

    How cool! I just saw “Nature” on PBS last night, and it was about George and Joy Adamson along with Elsa and their other lions. While it breaks my heart to see these creatures through chain link, at least their lives are certainly better than they were! (And BTW, I think Brody and Oscar may be brothers of another mother — that’s one of his favorite poses also!) Thanks for sharing these beautiful animals!

    • Tonya

      Clyde lies around the house in that pose too. They have no shame! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Gayle

    Fabulous! Funny what hidden treasures exist so close to where we live our daily lives.

  • Wow, I think I need to make a visit, what a great place!

    • You should! They are open to the public twice a week.

  • Leigh

    tee hee, the brownie thing made me laugh

  • What a great sanctuary. Love if I could visit a place like this and I admire people who take their time and lives to take care of these precious animals.

  • I can’t wait to go on the 22nd!!! Thanks for the preview ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Well, I wouldn’t say I’m looking FORWARD to it, but it’s a beautiful location.

      • You know what I mean. Sucks for the occasion, but a cool place that looks cool to check out.

  • Wow! I kind of wish there was some place like Lion, Tigers, and Bears in Maine! Well, not really because that means there is a need for sanctuaries because people are dumb. But because this is reality and not some amazing utopia thought up by yours truly, I really want to visit a big kitty sanctuary! I love big kitties!

  • Hi Y’all,

    So nice that there are sanctuaries, but so sad we need them…that they just can’t run free! Like the pictures of wild animals at

    Hawk aka BrownDog