Since 1980, The Wild Animal Sanctuary has answered the call to rescue more than 1000 captive exotic and endangered large carnivores living in backyards, apartments, tiny cages, garages, crawl spaces, horse trailers, barns and other terrible situations.
The Sanctuary responds to requests from private citizens and government agencies to rescue animals from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and more. Because there are fewer Sanctuaries in the US, and other countries are making it illegal to own captive wildlife, we are getting more calls for rescues than ever.
Our rescued animals come from private owners who have the animal illegally or find they are unable to properly care for it...surplussed from zoos...entertainment industry rejects or "retirees"...roadside stands...exotic animal auctions...other facilities that have been shut down due to animal abuse, public safety concerns, or financial problems. The vast majority of our animals were confiscated by law enforcement officials, including the USDA, US Fish & Wildlife and various state and local law enforcement agencies.
TWAS has special rescue vans, trucks and trailers, along with custom built travel cages, all providing temperature controlled comfort for the animals during transport to their new home at the Sanctuary. Rescues range from small - picking up two foxes a state away - to medium - saving an African lion, two tigers and a mountain lion from a crawl space - to large - rescuing a family of lions from Mexico City - to huge - rescuing 25 Bears from a facility closed in Texas.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary works closely with national, state and international law enforcement agencies; local, state and national agencies (zoning, health and welfare, for example); and government entities such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These organizations depend on us to provide safe and humane wild animal rescue services. We also work with zoos and wildlife facilities that are experiencing overcrowded conditions and need assistance.
TWAS provides short-term foster care during pending court action, and permanent guardianship of the animals after legal custody is obtained. We rescue many animals each year, depending on the space we have available.
The success of the Sanctuary can be found in the relaxed contentment that is evident in each of the hundreds of large carnivores that enjoy a life of freedom and dignity on the Sanctuary's 10,473 acres between Keenesburg and Springfield, Colorado. These rescued Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores are now safe from abuse and neglect, and will live in comfort and peace for the rest of their lives.
It is the Sanctuary's goal to have every animal live in a large acreage habitat with others of their own kind, so that they can experience life with plenty of space, diets of exceptional quality, expert veterinary care, and freedom from performing, traveling, or otherwise doing things Nature did not intend for them.
Once the rescued animals arrive at The Wild Animal Sanctuary, they are given time in seclusion to get adjusted to their new home. Depending on the level - and type - of abuse, the animals are rehabilitated with loving care, so that they learn they can trust humans again.
Animals live in a variety of places on the Sanctuary and Refuge grounds in both Keenesburg and Springfield, based on their species and their relative newness to the Sanctuary. Those living in the Roundhouse have inside / outside enclosures, and heated areas for winter. All animals have a wide variety of play structures, including pools for the tigers. The Roundhouse has gates that allow the cats to take turns in the tiger pool area, which features a waterfall and large zoo balls for play. Outside enclosures are spread with wood chips, which are cleaned and changed on a regular basis.
Habitats - TWAS has habitats ranging in size from 5 to 300 acres. These natural habitats are on rolling prairie grasslands, complete swimming ponds, trees and seasonal lakes. They all have underground dens (that stay about 60 degrees year round), shade shelters and play structures, and all kinds of toys and enrichment.
Diet - The animals are fed on a random schedule, like they would eat in the wild. This feeding process helps address their natural biological needs perfectly. The Sanctuary feeds 38,000 lbs. of top quality USDA-inspected meats (beef, poultry, mutton, pork, etc...), blended with vitamins and other nutrients, to its great cats and wolves each week.
We feed another 10,000- 19,000 lbs. of everything to our bears each week. While most of the bear food (fruit, veggies, eggs, fish, etc...) is donated, it costs the Sanctuary another $100,000.00 a year in transportation and cold storage costs (fleet of vehicles, gas, maintenance and insurance, cold and freezer storage units). As you can imagine, costs of food, transportation and storage make up the "lion's share" of the Sanctuary's budget!
Veterinary Care - We provide exceptional veterinary care for the animals. Upon arrival, the animals are checked and vaccinated if necessary. Since there is no breeding, male animals not already neutered must have that procedure when they arrive. (All except for the African lions, who would lose their manes, so female African lions receive implants to depress their cycles.).
TWAS Veterinary Hospital - The Sanctuary has its own Veterinary Hospital that was built with all the necessary specialized equipment to comfortably accommodate animals up to the size of our largest animals - the 1,500 lb. grizzly bears. The onsite Veterinary Hospital can handle the vast majority of medical issues the animals face, and utilizes a network of dedicated Veterinarians to cover the spectrum of animal medical issues. Another goal of the Hospital is to provide educational opportunities for veterinarians and students who want to specialize in large carnivore care. For serious medical issues requiring major diagnostic equipment such as MRI machines, the animals must be sedated and taken to Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, where expert teams and state-of-the-art equipment can be utilized.
10,473-acre sanctuary with over 650+ rescued Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores who can be found safe in their relaxed habitats, free from abuse and neglect, and will live in comfort and peace for the rest of their lives.
Education about the Captive Wildlife Crisis - the causes of and potential solutions to - is critically important to the alleviation of suffering endured by millions of animals worldwide. It may sound idealistic, but The Wild Animal Sanctuary wants to change social consciousness - so that people learn to understand that captive large carnivores do not make good pets...they are not entertainment...and their skins and body parts are not products.
The way to achieve this change in social consciousness is through Education.
Education is part of the orientation given to all visitors at the Sanctuary. It is important that visitors understand the need for sanctuaries like ours, as well as what they can do to help alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands of captive large carnivores living in substandard conditions throughout the US. We greet every visitor with a very detailed orientation about the sanctuary and explain our mission and why our services are needed.We are equipped with a "video wall" for enhanced orientations and educational presentations. It is important for our visitors to understand the mission of The Wild Animal Sanctuary and the extent of the captive wildlife crisis, and the video wall allows us to show video footage of rescues and our rehabilitation process while the orientation is being carried out.
TWAS has an Education Center containing printed information, posters and videos about the animals, the Captive Wildlife Crisis, the kind of life we provide for our rescued animals, what and how we feed the animals, how we construct their habitats and shelters, and a whole lot more. In addition to welcoming 200,000+ visitors each year, the Sanctuary also gives group tours to students and scouts, organizations and businesses. Groups must schedule their tours in advance, by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 303-536-0118.
The Sanctuary Speakers Bureau, made up of staff and volunteers, travels throughout Colorado's Front Range, giving presentations to businesses, service clubs, universities and other agencies, as well as participating in town fairs and other public gatherings. Government agencies and professional organizations involved with captive wildlife issues frequently seek our advice on the animals' care, transportation and behaviors.
To schedule a presentation, please call the Sanctuary, 303-536-0118.
We educate over 200,000 Children and Adults each year.