How a local animal sanctuary pulled off an exotic animal rescue - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

How a local animal sanctuary pulled off an exotic animal rescue

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - It's home sweet home Wednesday night for some exotic animals that had to be evacuated this past weekend after the Sand Fire broke out in Santa Clarita. 

Nearly a dozen big cats, including lions, tigers and cougars, were brought back to their home at the Wildlife Waystation in Slymar, four days after the ferocious wildfire had their owners scampering to find them safe shelter. 

"The fire was right above the hill. Right where we were, because it’s down in the bottom of the canyon," said Bobbi Brink.

Brink, founder of the Lions, Tigers and Bears Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Alpine, mobilized a team of trained volunteers and headed north on Saturday to help evacuate dozens of large animals. According to Brink, there were about one hundred lions, tigers, bears and hyenas that were threatened by the fire. 

"We immediately started unloading our cages and immediately jumped in with the people that were up there and started helping them get animals tranquilized," said Brink. "The vet would tranquilize and then it takes, you know, six people to lift up a bear and get it on the gurney and get it in the transfer cage and then get that transfer cage into the trailer."

Brink and her team used the two trucks and two trailers they had brought with them to move the animals to safety. 

"We took them up to the top of the Grapevine to another facility up there," said Brink. 

The team made about five round trips to safely transport all the animals out of harms way while trying to minimize their stress as much as possible. 

"The bears are the ones to stress first. A couple of bears were literally running back and fourth because they smell that smoke and know they've got to go."

Though firefighters continue to battle the Sand Fire, the Wildlife Waystation is now out of the fire's path and the animals have been cleared to return home. 

"It's pretty awesome to be able to jump in and help. We're lucky because nobody got hurt. No animals got hurt, no people got hurt," said Brink. 

Bobbi Brink and her team are experienced in evacuating large and exotic animals. They had to evacuate the Lions, Tigers and Bears Sanctuary in Alpine during the Cedar Fire in 2003. 

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