Answers To Frequently Asked Questions...
Where do your animals come from?
The vast majority (approx. 85%) are confiscated by either state entities (like the Division of Wildlife or a County Sheriff’s Office) or Federal entities (like the USDA or U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service). Sometimes people abandon their animals, or purposely give them away because they don’t want to care for them anymore…but all of these rescued animals would most likely have been euthanized if TWAS was not able to rescue them.
Isn’t it illegal for people to own these kinds of animals?
Yes, it is illegal in most states for anyone to own an exotic animal as a pet—but some states allow people to have these kinds of animals if they are using them in a business (like a circus, magic act, zoo, movie, animal actors, etc…) and are licensed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) or other federal law enforcement agencies. But in most cases—people just ignore the laws (or pretend they didn’t know better) and get one anyway.
How can your sanctuary have these animals?
We are licensed by the State of Colorado, the USDA, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a zoological facility.
How are you funded?
We are a 501(c)3 public non-profit—much like a Humane Society for cats and dogs—and have to rely entirely on private contributions, fundraising events, and grants from foundations to stay in operation. The vast majority of the money we raise each year comes from small donations by everyday people who care about the welfare of these animals enough to make a donation as often as they can. We also encourage people to consider putting the Sanctuary in their will - since that is one of the best ways for the Sanctuary to get significant funding for long-term stability and security for the animals.
Does the government help pay for their care?
No, unfortunately, the government can’t afford to fund any programs to save these kinds of animals—as they have their own budget cut-backs all the time, and are almost always under funded (with their own programs)—so they typically can’t afford to help in any way.
How much does it cost to save one of these animals?
All of the rescued animals at the Sanctuary eat special diets of high quality food, and also require medical care and lots of other things that ad up to a yearly figure for each animal. The larger animals (Lions, Tigers & Bears) each cost about $8,000 per year to feed, house and care for, the medium size animals (Leopards, Mountain Lions, and Wolves) each cost about $6,000 per year, and the small animals (Bobcats, Servals and Coati Mundi) each cost about $4,000 per year.
What do you feed the animals?
The cats and canines eat a USDA approved, special blend of raw meat that is prepared by our staff and volunteers. The diet consists of beef, poultry, mutton and pork - with vitamins, minerals, Blue-Green Algae and health related organs added - that are mixed together into 10 lbs blocks. We have multiple refrigerated trucks and full-time drivers that go to 58 different locations multiple times per week to pick up meat, fruits and vegetables. We feed approximately 28,500 lbs. of meat per week to the cats and canines. The Bears eat over 29,500 lbs. of vegetables, fruits, grains, breads, cereals, pasta and meats (since they are omnivores) just like humans. We receive another 3,000 lbs of additional food donated each week from other stores, farmer's markets and wholesale suppliers..
Do you feed any live or dead animals?
We do not take in road-kill or any other kind of carcass animals since they are not fresh, or safe, for our animals to eat. Dead animals can bring in all sorts of fleas, ticks and other parasites—which can cause a lot of medical problems for our animals. We only feed the animals a USDA approved diet which has been processed to high-grade specifications. We also do not take old freezer meat or hunter’s unwanted meat since the USDA requires us to feed an approved diet that is made especially for zoo animals.
How do these animals fare in the wintertime?
Many of our animals (Bears, Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Wolves and Siberian Tigers) normally live in cold weather climates so they have no need for heated dens in the winter. However, we do provide heated dens for all our animals whether they need it or not. Our Bears hibernate all winter in their own special underground dens, and all the other animals living in our large acreage habitats have dens that stay 60 degrees year-round, so they can go inside if needed during bad weather. The Lions, Leopards and Tigers adapt very well to our winter conditions, and normally only choose to go inside their dens during severe weather.
How do you get the animals here?
The Sanctuary has a fleet of special trucks, trailers, and semi tractor-trailers that are outfitted with cages, water & food supplies, lifting equipment, and air-conditioning that travel all over the U.S. to rescue these animals. We also have more than 60 large IATA approved shipping crates that are used for international rescues, which enable us to rescue entire jet loads of animals at one time if needed. When we receive a call from a government agency that needs help removing animals from bad situations, we have to be ready and able to go on a moment’s notice, and have the manpower and equipment necessary to do the job.
Do the Tigers in the smaller enclosures get to go out into the habitats?
Yes, the animals living in the roundhouse will all end up in habitats at some point. However, adult Tigers do not integrate as quickly as Lions and Bears do, so their is a special process used to introduce them. The ones currently living together in habitats were slowly introduced into “Family Groups” prior to being released into the large natural spaces. The adult Tigers going through rehabilitation in the roundhouse area get to take turns going into the Tiger Pool Area on a daily basis, and will also move into new habitats as additional family groups are created.
Does the Sanctuary accept volunteers?
Yes, the Sanctuary is primarily an all-volunteer organization. People are encouraged to go to our website and fill out an application to volunteer. Once you have filled out the form and mailed it to us, the volunteer coordinator will contact you to see what kind of schedule you have and what kinds of activity you are interested in. Our primary needs are in the areas of fundraising, and docents that can speak to visitors and answer questions about the animals…but we also have positions in accounting, animal care, fence building, landscaping, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and event coordination. Volunteer do not have to have previous animal experience to work here—as we teach our volunteers everything they need to know in order to do their tasks.
Does the Sanctuary have a full time vet on staff?
Yes, the Sanctuary has a full time Veterinarian on staff, and have a large, fully-equiped Veterinary Hospital on site. We utilize the facility to perform all of our routine procedures like yearly vaccinations, worming, and small medical treatments, as well as for complex surgical procedures. We also utilize Veterinarians from CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Veterinary Referral Specialists for complex or unique medical treatments that require specialized vets or costly equipment.
How long do these animals live?
Most of the big cats live up to 23 years in captivity. However, in the wild, where life is much harder, they would usually live 10 to 14 years. The Bears can live up to 40 years in captivity, since they do not have to work so hard to find food on a daily basis (in the wild a Bear will cover hundreds of miles, weekly, in search of enough food to survive). The Mountain Lions, Wolves, and smaller animals usually live 12 to16 years in captivity and about 8 to 10 in the wild.
Do you breed any of the animals here or ever rescue cubs?
No, we do not breed any of the rescued animals that come to the Sanctuary—as we neuter, spay, or insert contraceptive implants into the animals when the arrive. Usually the males are neutered—since it is the least invasive surgery available, and also reduces aggressive behavior in most males. We do not neuter the male African Lions because their beautiful manes are linked to testosterone levels…which means they would lose their manes if we neutered them, and their manes play an integral role in the social dynamics of the pride. So, for the African Lions, we usually use contraceptive implants to keep the females from becoming pregnant (much like the “Norplant” that is used in humans). Sometimes the Sanctuary will have cubs if we rescued them or if a female animal arrives already pregnant from unregulated activities where they were rescued from—and in those cases—we usually take the babies away within a short time after they are born to protect them. Our facility is not equipped with a nursery for a mother to safely care for her young because we do not breed our animals. Once they are large enough to interact with their own species again, we introduce them back to their parents and/or others of their own kind, so they can live more naturally and enjoy the company of the same species.
Where is The Wild Animal Refuge located?
It is located in Colorado approximately 190 miles southeast of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, situated partway between the towns of La Junta and Springfield, Colorado.
Does this mean The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg is closing?
Most definitely not. The Wild Animal Sanctuary will continue to operate as it always has in our current location—educating the public about the Captive Wildlife Crisis and caring for the nearly-520 animals living there.
Will the new Wild Animal Refuge facility be open to the public?
Not for the foreseeable future. It takes a large amount of resources to be open to the public that will be needed to develop the property for rescued animals. One of its greatest assets for our animals, its remoteness, also makes it more difficult for public access. However, as time goes on and circumstances change, there may be the possibility for some limited public access.
Will you stop keeping animals at The Wild Animal Sanctuary?
No. As we have always done, we will continue to do what is best for each animal we rescue. That is, some animals may be better suited living at the Sanctuary (e.g., older animals or those needing extra care) while others will be able to thrive at the Refuge.
Will animals receive the same level of care at The Wild Animal Refuge?
Of course. The animals are why we exist. We will only begin locating animals at the new location once everything is in place to ensure the same high-quality care they receive at The Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Will animals be safe at The Wild Animal Refuge?
Yes. We still need to meet the USDA’s safety and barrier requirements that we currently do, and just like at The Wild Animal Sanctuary, there will be employees living on-site 24-hours/day.