All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

Dear Readers,
Frequently, I receive letters with questions and concerns about urban wildlife. Here in Orange County, many residents don’t expect to see coyotes, opossums, skunks, raccoons, bobcats, deer, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, etc. But the fact is, they are all here, along with many other amazing species and unfortunately, the first reaction most people experience is fear; and that usually leads to problems.

Nevertheless, the most basic rule of thumb for safe and harmonious co-existence regarding the wildlife we share our cities with is to learn about them. Alas, there are very few places one can go to get up close and personal, from an educational perspective, with indigenous animals.

Most zoos are not interested in local wildlife. Their enclosures and habitats are filled with exotic animals such as tigers, giraffes, polar bears and penguins. Though learning about all the animals of the earth is enjoyable and interesting, I believe it is equally important to learn about feathery, scaly, and furry next-door neighbors as well.

My favorite local zoo is the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. The facility, which is located at Big Bear Lake, serves as a type of foster home for wild animals that have been injured, or kept illegally as pets. When possible, the zoo personnel rehabilitate and release the critters that luckily end up on their doorstep. Sadly, however, many of these animals have been seriously maimed by human beings and can never be returned to the wild. In these cases, a permanent home with wonderful care will be theirs, and by living at the zoo, these creatures provide humans the chance to learn about how special and integral to the balance of nature all living things are.

The zoo is a relatively short drive out to the San Bernardino Forest, and makes a great day trip or mini-vacation. It is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, with general admission being only $12. Children 3-10 years old, active and retired military (with ID), and senior citizens are only $9.00, and kids under 3 years old are free. It is located right across the street from Bear Mountain Ski Resort at 43285 Goldmine Drive, Big Bear Lake, CA.

Taking a trip up to the local mountains and spending an afternoon at the zoo is always fun, but if you can, plan on being there any Saturday in December between 11 AM and 2PM. You will be in for a treat. The animal park is having a special holiday festival, complete with "Santa Claws."

For more information about this upcoming event, call the Friends of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo at
909-878-4200 or visit

Many of you may recall that I have written about the Big Bear Alpine Zoo (formerly the Moonridge Animal Park) before. This amazing facility has lost its lease on the land where they have been located since 1959. They are working hard to raise enough money to build a new facility on the North side of Big Bear Lake and transfer all of their orphans. Few organizations have taken on the huge responsibility of helping to educate the public about indigenous wildlife, and fewer still offer a refuge to those animals who have suffered the consequences of venturing too close to human beings. If you are interested in volunteering or helping the zoo in any way, please write to the Friends of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo at or call the number mentioned above.

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