Although having endangered and exotic animals as pets is illegal in many parts of the world, people in the U.S. and across the globe continue to keep wildlife in captivity. In an effort to rescue and protect exotic and/or endangered captive species, The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) was established in 1980, just outside of Keenesburg, Colorado, about 50 miles east of Boulder, Colorado.
TWAS History & Mission
Executive Director Pat Craig developed the non-profit organization and licensed zoological facility 35 years ago. It is one of the largest and oldest sanctuaries in the country, situated on 720 acres of rolling grasslands. It shelters over 350 animals, including lions, tigers, leopards, bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, ostriches, camels, and alpacas in a comfortable and safe environment. The organization has built species-specific habitats within its grounds, in order to rehabilitate and foster the animals with tremendous care. For instance, they have a spacious bear enclosure, which is home to over 100 different bears.
The animals were rescued from various parts of the Western hemisphere, mostly confiscated by government officials from private residences, or transferred from zoos and other sanctuaries that had a surplus of animals. Some of the TWAS refugees were abandoned, abused, or malnourished, due to previous owners’ negligence and lack of knowledge regarding care and nutrition.
The illegal wildlife trade is a huge crisis, with tens of thousands of animals being held inhumanely here in the U.S. alone. This problem is not only an animal rights issue, but it also concerns public safety; keeping wild species as pets is dangerous for the owners and their neighbors.
Helping Large Wildlife Species
There are about 70 wildlife sanctuaries in the country, but only a dozen places take in large carnivores like big cats and bears, which can not be re-released into the wild. TWAS serves a vital role in the fight against wildlife captivity and animal cruelty by providing a long-term home for many of the larger carnivorous species that require more space and funding to shelter. Recently, the sanctuary took in 30 new lions from South American zoos, in its continued effort to work with local, state, federal, and international authorities to provide relief for confiscated animals. The sanctuary has an experienced staff that includes veterinarians and other zoological professionals who are trained to handle and care for these majestic creatures.
TWAS depends on generous donors in order to continue operating its big refuge. If you want to help save animals from captivity, please consider making a charitable, tax-deductible donation to this wonderful organization. You can also visit the facility, which features the “Mile Into the Wild,” an elevated walkway where guests can view the animals from a safe distance. TWAS is expanding its pathway, adding an additional mile, in order for guests to view even more animal enclosures. The Sanctuary provides an amazing opportunity to see these large carnivores up close and is a great day trip for the summer. Visit The Wildlife Animal Sanctuary website for up to date news and information about its great work and to learn how you can support the organization.