The Big Bear Alpine Zoo has been saving alpine wildlife since 1959. Originally it was not a zoo, but a safe place for injured animals to rehabilitate and get a second chance back in the wild. The facility is owned and operated by Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District, a Special District of the County of San Bernardino. 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. 90% of all animals brought to the zoo for rehabilitation are successfully released back onto their native environment. Those that remain 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 "Friends of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo" was formed in 1989 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) public-benefit corporation whose purpose is to support the Big Bear Alpine Zoo through: (1) Educating the public regarding treatment, protection, and conservation of wildlife; (2) Recruiting and coordinating park volunteers; and (3) Fundraising.
The Big Bear Alpine Zoo provides wildlife rehabilitation and release. Those animals that cannot be released are given a home for life in the zoo. The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is the only zoological facility located in an alpine forest specializing in alpine species. zoo residents include grizzly bears, black bears, cougars, wolves, and eagles, to name a few of the 160 animals representing 80 species.