Maybe you are seeing a theme, why yes I do love animals!
This particular week involves Lions and Tigers and Bears…. oh my!
And wolves and lynx and bobcat and…. you get the idea.
Last weekend I took my Girl Scout troop to the Wild Animal sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.
Keenesburg is about an hour south of Fort Collins, and around 40 minutes North of Denver. Yet it’s a world away from the traffic, noise, and hustle and bustle that is living in town.
Keenesburg is really just a small prairie village that happens to have one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. The only reason it got its claim to fame is due to it being so rural and having extra land for sale and to spare.
Enter the wild animal sanctuary. The sanctuary started as a private project of love by Pat Craig who began rescuing animals that were up for euthanasia or that were being mistreated. Rescues came from around the country from zoos, owners that misjudged their ability to own a predator, and circuses. Before they knew it, they had a lot more critters and needed more resources.
When I was a kid no one could visit without getting special permission. Now the sanctuary welcomes around 200,000 visitors a year! Guests not only visit the animals, they also learn about the rehabilitation process for these often abused and neglected creatures.
The sanctuary specializes in carnivores and larger predators as they are often the hardest to care for. What makes their experience unique is solely the amount of space the animals have to live, yell, have friends, play, eat, and be happy in their captive lives.
In addition to giving the cats their space and a life of comfort, the sanctuary boasts the longest raised walkway in the world. Almost like a boardwalk, a raised platform goes on for over a mile giving guests the chance to view the animals without infringing on their daily lives.
As presented at the sanctuary, the critters don’t feel threatened when people are above them in such a matter. This also improves the visibility for visitors as it gives guests an intimate view without driving animals to discomfort or hiding.
Perhaps my personal favorite aspect was getting to hear the animals call and run like they would naturally. The lions growled and talked to each other. The wolves howled. The bobcats rolled in the grass. Every animal seemed contented and happy, even if his or her lives had not always been that way.
What was sad about the sanctuary is that it has to exist. It’s that more tigers are captive in Texas than in the wild. And that humans are the culprit. While I think baby tigers are adorable there is considerable ignorance. To think baby Baloo won’t turn into a giant bear in a few years. Animals also belong to their instincts. Look at even a house cat, less domesticated than dogs they can terrorize their homes and they’re between 8-20lbs imagine one at 300! Point being, animals deserve not to be mistreated over the selfish whims of people.
Some of the animals had visible scars, yes scars, from their years of mistreatment while other showed signs of neglect. One obese tiger that as going through rehabilitation had been over fed and under exercised that it was shocking to see them in extra weight. I had never thought an obese tiger was a reality, but lo and behold.
Yet, trying to move past the sad, is the hope; that with patience, love, education, and action we can end these tragedies. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is changing minds and the world and I hope, if in the neighborhood, you will take the time to be humbled by animals being their natural, wonderful selves.