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If you wish to access all of the audio files along the Walkway (to use your phone instead of the kiosks), please go to our main Audio Tour page.

Audio Kiosk #9

Above The Animals

Hopefully by now you have noticed that the animals barely acknowledge your presence while up on the walkway. This would not be the case if you were at ground level with them. All of us know that wild animals typically try to remove themselves from the presence of human beings. They primarily do this by running away, but if that is not possible, they try to get the humans to run away by barking, snarling, growling, charging or the like. When running away is not possible and the humans do not leave, it creates a stressful situation that often causes neurotic behavior in the animal. Behavior such as excessive pacing, chewing on bars, self-mutilation and rocking and swaying are common. The Wild Animal Sanctuary only opened to the public once a way was found to prevent this stress. Almost by accident it was discovered that if you are above the animals they do not feel threatened in a territorial manner. It is much the same as human beings with birds and airplanes. Birds and airplanes fly above us all the time, yet we do not consider them a concern. This is also the reason why the Sanctuary does not allow ground-level viewing of the animals-- which would stress the animals out and eventually cause most of them to remain out of view when people are present.


Building the Walkway

The elevated walkway at the Sanctuary is a marvel. It has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest pedestrian footbridge in the world with over 1.5 miles of walkway. Amazingly, Sanctuary staff members have been able to build the entire structure on-site—saving untold thousands of dollars. Arriving as raw, 3 inch steel beams, the steel is cut and fabricated into 40-foot long sections that are then placed in the habitats and connected together. Just ahead and to the left you will see a large and old crane situated between two Bear habitats. A relic of the past, it is a 1950’s vintage crane built by the Koehring Corporation and was used in 2011 and 2012 to construct the mile-long walkway that stretched out to the Lion House. Using only cables and spools instead of hydraulics, it was a little tricky to operate, but it did a great job in hoisting the huge walkway sections into place. Unfortunately, it died where you see it, and because of its great bulk and weight has been difficult to move. We now see it as a connection to our past. And the birds like it too!


The People in Orange You See

Hopefully on your visit today you have seen a number of people in orange. Those that you see on the walkway are volunteers. The Sanctuary has always relied incredibly on the labor of volunteers to make the Sanctuary a success. Volunteers are used both for educational purposes, like up here on the walkway, but also to help our Animal Care staff. Up ahead you will learn a little bit more about our Carnivore Nutrition Center which typically has many volunteers in it at any given time, helping to prepare the food and diets for the animals. Please feel free to engage anyone you see in orange and ask them any questions that you may have. Our volunteers delight in being able to tell guests about the Sanctuary, its mission, and most importantly, our wonderful animals. We ask you, as well, to consider volunteering. The Sanctuary has only become what it currently is because so many hundreds of generous volunteers over the decades have helped. If you are interested in volunteering, please feel free to ask anyone in orange and they will be glad to help you. There is also information on our website about volunteering.


Sanctuary Ecosystems

In addition to all of the hundreds of animals that have been rescued and call the Sanctuary home, many other naturally-wild animals live here. As one can imagine, with so much land, food, water and protection from human encroachment, many other creatures, large and small, call the Sanctuary home. During your visit today be on the lookout for all kinds of many smaller wild ecosystems. For example, the walkway itself provides nesting opportunities for birds in the springtime and early summer, while the ponds provide nesting areas for waterfowl.  As one would expect, the ponds are full of water creatures including frogs, crayfish, turtles and even muskrats. The Sanctuary is also home to many wild Foxes and Coyotes, although they may not be as readily visible. And you should see numerous cotton-tail rabbits on the ground and even in the habitats where most of the time they are quite safe.  Starlings by the tens of thousands are present year-round due to the abundance of extra food in the habitats, and surprisingly to many people, the Sanctuary also has thousands of gulls living here.  Although a little bit messy, they are great janitors and clean up much of what the Bears don’t eat.  Many bird watchers love to come to the Sanctuary throughout the year to search for different species and to take wonderful photos of the birds that live and visit here.  A partial list of some of the bird species seen at the Sanctuary can be found on page 31 of the Tour Guide book.

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