About Us

Welcome to Big Bear Zoo!

Big Bear Alpine Zoo – “Saving wildlife since 1959”

The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a rehabilitation facility offering injured, orphaned and imprinted wild animals a safe haven; temporarily while they heal or permanently as they are unable to survive on their own. We are extremely proud that the vast majority of animals brought to us for rehabilitation are successfully released back into their native environment. Those that remain with us on exhibit are either too injured or have been imprinted by humans and cannot be released back into the wild to care for themselves.

The Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District, a Special District of the County of San Bernardino, owns the zoo, the facilities and the animals. County employees are hired for animal care, grounds keepers, maintenance, education and administration. The zoo is located within the 3rd District of the County of San Bernardino. The Park District oversees the operation of the zoo, and the Curator oversees the day to day activities of the zoo. The zoo is located in the San Bernardino National Forest at an elevation of 7140 feet.

In October 2020, the Zoo welcomed Bill Hoffman as the Curator.

The Friends of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo (FOBBAZ) was created in 1989, as a 501(C3), nonprofit, fundraising organization to support the zoo. The Friends provide volunteer work in the zoo and their volunteer activities cover a wide range of duties playing a huge part in the guest experience. Docents greet guests, provide information and offer educational information, provide tours, prepare meals, help with animal presentations and occasionally assisting in light maintenance activities. After raising millions of dollars to contribute to the building of the new zoo, the Friends are now charged with raising funds to enhance the new facility.  They do this through membership to the Zoo, Fundraising activities and an annual campaign.

Facts: The Big Bear Alpine Zoo (formally Moonridge Animal Park) opened its doors in 1959 after a devastating wildfire roared through the San Bernardino National Forest. Originally, it was not a zoo, but a safe place for injured animals to rehabilitate and get a second chance back in the wild. For some, returning to the wild was not an option as they had been imprinted by their human caretakers or were too injured to take care of themselves. The first animals in the zoo’s care were a black bear and two bobcats.

In 1960, a 50 year lease was obtained and allowed the zoo to grow to be the zoological facility that it is today. The zoo is currently home to animals and birds representing over 85 species and is located in San Bernardino County, the largest County in the contiguous United States. Our primary objective is to rescue, rehabilitate and release wild animals. The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is the “go to” facility for injured and imprinted animals. Local, county, state and federal entities as well as other non-profit organizations and the public turn to the Big Bear Alpine Zoo to help animals in need.

The Beginning


Summer McElroy

Lead Animal Keeper

Christy McGiveron

CCRW. Lead Animal Keeper

Dariush Larizadeh

Animal Keeper

Danielle Bates

Animal Keeper

Christine Bice

Gift Shop

Ashley Loftus

Relief Keeper

Irma MacLeod

Relief Keeper

Alex Palmer

Relief Keeper

Ryan Pakrosvsky

Maint assist/keeper aide