Lions and Tigers and Bears? Oh My!

A curious mountain lion

Nestled among the rolling basalt hills of Butte Valley, the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation is a unique Northern California treasure. Founded in 1994, this organization is dedicated to providing long-term care and rehabilitation to animals that can’t be released into the wild.

They have several local, native species that they look after. Most have been injured and would be unable to survive on their own. Among the local species are bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, owls and hawks. One black bear, Glenda, made quite a splash in her “hometown” of Glendora, California, after she was caught several time lounging around in area backyards and swimming pools. Wildlife officials relocated her to the sanctuary when it was determined she posed too big of a threat to herself and residents.

A Liger named Outlaw

Many exotic species call the Kirshner wildlife refuge home. There are several large cats, such as lions, tigers, leopards and cheetahs. They also have some hybrid cats. Fans of the film Napoleon Dynamite will be glad to know that ligers do exist. They are a cross of a lion and a tiger. Interestingly, when these cats are cross-bred, the gene that limits their growth is missing, meaning that they continue to grow through their lifespan. One of their ligers actually had to be weighed at the Butte County Landfill, using their truck scale. She topped out at 999 pounds.

Many domesticated animals find their way to the sanctuary. There are several reptiles, including snakes, tortoises and giant lizards, whose former owners didn’t realize what level of care these creatures need.

Sweetheart, at the grand opening of the Oroville Century21 Select office

There is quite a wide variety of parrots at the facility. Most parrots have a long lifespan. Having one as a pet is a lifelong commitment, with many outliving their owners. Other birds have ongoing health issues that require specialized care. Regardless of why they were brought here, all have found their forever homes with the caring staff at the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation.

Sweetheart, a sulpher-crested cockatoo is one such parrot. She is missing her upper beak, and was brought to the sanctuary by a veterinarian because she was malnourished and in need of constant attention. Volunteers nursed her back to health, and she now able to eat a wide-variety of food. She is also a popular ambassador for the organization.

The Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation is more than a refuge for unwanted animals. They have strong outreach and educational programs. The foundation frequently takes their “animal-ambassadors” out into community, to schools, hospitals, senior centers and special events to promote awareness and education. The foundation is actually an accredited learning institution. Volunteers can earn up to 15 transferable college credits.

With over one hundred animals on-site, the sanctuary will make an interesting, fun and educational visit. The Barry R. Kirschner Wildlife Foundation also is a good place to throw an memorable birthday party.

They are located at 4995 Durham-Pentz Rd. in Butte Valley, about 20 minutes south of Chico.

For more information, visit their website at:

By Jeremy Dunn, Select Group Videographer

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