Tex. big cat sanctuary takes in four bear cubs

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

The International Exotic Feline Sanctuary in Boyd has been home for almost two decades to rescued bobcats, cougars, jaguars, leopards, lions and tigers.

Now they’ve got bears.

Wednesday, more than 60 big cats were joined by four 16-month-old grizzly bear cubs. Weighing in at about 150 pounds each, the three males and one female are already making themselves at home, said Richard Gilbreth, director of the sanctuary.

They came from a facility in Seguin that did not have space for them.

“Here, they have played in water with a ball, rolled around and ate grapes,” he said. “It’s a sight to see.”

They will be joined soon by two adult black bears now being kept at the North Texas Humane Society. The bears were seized in central Texas where they were confined in a small indoor area on a concrete floor. They never saw grass or sunlight.

The sanctuary, on Texas 114, plans to build the bears a large habitat with individual dens, swimming pools, trees, climbing poles, boomer balls, large spools and items like hanging tires.

The nonprofit group has changed its name to the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary.

“We couldn’t very well keep bears and keep feline in the name,” Gilbreth said. The sanctuary was founded in 1988.

Name a bear

Donors of at least $10,000 may name one of the six bears. The nonprofit sanctuary depends largely on donations.

To visit the sanctuary

Tours are given at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and at 11 a.m. Sundays. The tours are free, but tax-deductible donations of a minimum of $20 for adults and $10 for children are suggested (no children under 7 allowed). Reservations are required and may be made online at

www.bigcat.org or by calling 940-433-5091.


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