Roamin’ the Range, June 2019
by Libby James
A lover of wild animals? Ever dreamed of an African safari? A trip to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado won’t fulfill your safari dream but this, the largest sanctuary in the world dedicated to rescuing captive, exotic and endangered large carnivores, is a close-to-home opportunity not to be missed.
Located east of Fort Collins, midway between Denver and Greeley, this 978-acre piece of rural, rolling grassland is home to 500 bears, lions, tigers, mountain lions, foxes, camels, leopards and wolves. Victims of abuse and neglect, many who have been part of roadside shows, circuses, and magic acts, are living out their lives in the best way possible in large, species-specific areas where they can roam and forage naturally.
Visitors are treated to a documentary on a large outdoor screen where they learn the history of the sanctuary and stories of the animals who live there. Then they proceed to a winding elevated walkway which offers close-up views of the animals without subjecting them to the stress of a steady stream of human onlookers. There are plenty of picture-taking opportunities. Stop at the education center at the end of the walkway to see videos and learn more about the animals.
Since its founding nearly 40 years ago, the sanctuary has moved three times, from Boulder to Lyons, and finally to Keenesburg in order to accommodate the need for additional space. Finding itself landlocked in Keenesburg, the sanctuary opened a second site, a nearly-10,000-acre refuge in Springfield, in southern Colorado where the animals have plenty of space to roam. The refuge is not open to the public. The sanctuary has received more than 1,000 requests to house and care for abused animals since its opening in 1980.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg is open seven days a week between 9 a.m. and sunset but entry closes at 5 p.m. Visitors should allow up to three hours for an excursion.
Admission is $30 for adults, $15 for children three through 12 and is free for seniors who support this non-profit organization with their donations. They are invited to bring along as many as five guests.
For more information see www.wildanimalsanctuary.org or call 303-536-0118.