Last Spring we took a day trip to the Wild Animal Sanctuary about 45 minutes Northeast of Denver. It’s unlike anything I have ever experienced, and it has forever changed my view of animals in captivity.
The animals at the sanctuary have been in captivity their whole lives, and are rescued from zoos, circuses, or private residences. Some have never seen another animal of their own kind. Some have never been outside or out of a cage. They go through a careful transitioning process to large acreage habitats. The Keenesburg site has a total of 789 acres of space for the animals and is part of the largest carnivore sanctuary in the world.
Unlike a zoo, you cannot view the animals at ground-level because of the stress it causes them to have someone near their territory. Instead you can view animals from a 1.5 mile long pedestrian bridge 30 feet in the air because they determined the animals are not territorial about the sky.
Because these animals have always been in captivity, they cannot safely be released to the wild. However, the goal is to give them wide-open acres of space for the rest of their lives.
Some of the animals are still going through the transitioning process and practice going outside into large spaces on a daily basis until they are ready.
We learned so much and loved watching the animals be themselves. If you’re hoping to catch good glimpses of the animals, it’s best to go on a day when it’s not too hot. The animals aren’t forced to be on display front and center, so it’s advisable to bring binoculars. We found Spring to be a wonderful time to visit. If you’re an animal lover and find yourself in Denver, I highly recommend supporting the educational efforts of this amazing organization.
Photos by my husband, Trung Vo. @trungvophotography