As you have read here at AU the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado has taken in the wolf refugees from the Wolf Sanctuary outside of Ft. Collins, Colorado due to the High Park fire. I went to the Wildlife Sanctuary last night with some friends and I want to share with you what an impressive place it is.
Pat Craig started the sanctuary when he was 19 years old back in 1980. As a very bold and confident young man, he wasn’t happy when he found out how the surplus animals were treated in zoos and he had the gumption to do something about it. (Essentially these animals are left in smaller enclosures behind the flowery scenes out front.) Since that time his sanctuary has grown and moved and now encompasses about 700 acres of property outside of Keenesburg, Colorado.
Pat’s vision has led, 31 years later, to the oldest, largest nonprofit sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere dedicated exclusively to the rescue of captive exotic and endangered large carnivores that have been abused, abandoned, exploited or illegally kept. He has also pioneered the art of building large acreage species-specific habitats, giving the rescued animals wide open spaces in which to roam.
Mr. Craig and his staff are impressive people not only due to their compassion, but also due to their intelligence in how they handle the animals that come to them. Each animal is treated as the individual they are. They are slowly integrated into bigger enclosures than from their original lives, helping to ease their way into what may seem like to them like an untrustworthy world. The staff works to help these animals make a friend in the process with another of their species. As they get used to that, they move them to another area that is slightly bigger and near other friendly pairs. As they get used to that, and again, all within their own time as each animal is different due to the life they had previously led, they will eventually get into an area of a few acres and perhaps with a whole herd to join.
Once there, these animals get to live the rest of their lives free from exploitation and abuse. The feeling of relief is in the air at the Wildlife Sanctuary. These animals know finally that humans, these humans, are there for them and it’s a beautiful feeling.
These two grizzly bears in the photo are enjoying a wrestle in some water as the temperature soars to greater than 100 degrees.
As a communicator, the only unrest I felt were with the wolves from Fort Collins who have so recently been pulled from their homes and are still trying to understand what exactly is going on. They too get to stay with a partner and near the other rescued wolves. They have shade, and water and plenty of food. They’ve been told over and over that this is temporary and they will return, but it’s still a bit stressful for some of them. I continue to hope for a change in this heat spell that the firefighters might get an upper hand fighting that fire and these wolves can go home.
I highly recommend a visit if you can. I’ve avoided it during all my years in Colorado because I avoid zoos. This place is different. It is all good. From their website I found this quote they are fond of using that put a tear in my eye:
“Saving one animal may not change the World… but surely – for that one animal… the World will change forever!”
That has surely happened here for these animals.
The wolf sanctuary is holding a waltz to raise money this year on June 30th, click here for their website.
This is the link to the Wild Animal Sanctuary. It goes into more details about all aspects. There will be a National Geographic show on this place sometime this summer. They too can always use help, especially as they help the wolves from Fort Collins.