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Wild Animal Sanctuary Opens 9,684 Acre Refuge

March 2018

Wild Animal Sanctuary adds 9,004 acres to Colorado Operations

Springfield, CO – The Wild Animal Sanctuary has completed the purchase of a 9,684-acre ranch located in southeastern Colorado near the agricultural community of Springfield.

 

With more than 500 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other rescued animals currently residing at the non-profit organization’s facility near Keenesburg, Colorado, the need for additional space drove the organization to seek additional land to continue fulfilling its mission.  

 

Working with law enforcement agencies and other animal welfare groups within the United States and around the world, the organization had reached capacity at its 789-acre Sanctuary located just thirty miles northeast of Denver, CO.

 

Already considered the largest carnivore sanctuary in the world, the organization chose to purchase the large contiguous parcel near Springfield due to its size and abundant natural amenities.  Consisting primarily of hills, canyons and rocky bluffs blanketed in various species of pine trees, as well as valleys and pastures flowing with native grasses, Sanctuary management says the property is well suited for hosting wildlife.

 

The additional land will allow The Wild Animal Sanctuary to continue rescuing and rehabilitating captive wildlife for many years to come.  The organization says it has no plans to close its Keenesburg facility, since it continues to educate more than 160,000 visitors annually.  The site also features a unique 1.5-mile long elevated walkway that holds the Guinness World Records award for Longest Footbridge.

 

According to The Humane Society of The United States (1), tigers, lions, and other big cat species have exploded in popularity in the exotic pet trade. There are an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 tigers in the United States, but fewer than 400 of them are in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  The Foreign Policy Group (2), and World Wildlife Fund (3), also recognize the Captive Wildlife problems within the United States that lead to so many tigers and other exotic animals needing sanctuary.

 

Last year marked the 38th  year of rescuing exotic and endangered animals for the wildlife sanctuary.  The 789-acre facility outside of Denver, Colorado had been the primary facility utilized by the organization, but the new larger and more natural tract near Springfield will now become the main receiving site for new rescues. 

 

The Sanctuary specializes in rehabilitating captive wildlife and releasing them to live and roam freely in large natural habitats. To learn more about The Wild Animal Sanctuary, visit http://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org

 

  1. http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/exotic_pets/facts/dangerous-exotic-pets-big-cats.html

  2. http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/11/there-are-more-domestic-tigers-in-the-u-s-than-wild-ones-in-the-jungle/

  3. https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/more-tigers-in-american-backyards-than-in-the-wild

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Lions, Tigers & Bears Rescued From Closed Zoo In Argentina

March 2017

Colorado Sanctuary Rescues Lions, Tigers & Bears from Argentina

DENVER – The Wild Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit Wildlife Sanctuary, has successfully rescued (3) Bengal Tigers, (2) African Lions and (2) Grizzly Bears from inhumane conditions at a closed zoo in Colon, Argentina.

 

The five big cats and two bears were the last remaining animals to leave the zoo after closing its gates nearly 4 years earlier.  City officials contacted the sanctuary after closing their doors due to world-wide protests over the inhumane care and squalid conditions that existed at the zoo.

 

A team of four staff members including the Sanctuary’s head veterinarian, Dr. Felicia Knightly, visited the zoo in 2014 to determine if the animals were in sufficient condition to undergo the 6,400 mile trip to Colorado.   The non-profit wildlife sanctuary was chosen after numerous attempts to find suitable homes within Argentina failed.

 

The initial team’s inspection determined the animals needed time to gain weight and receive medical attention in order to safely travel to the United States - which would be accomplished while international paperwork and import/export permits were pursued.  As of January 2017, all seven animals were ready to make the trip, so a new rescue team was sent from the Sanctuary to retrieve the animals.

 

On February 11th, 2017 the team traveled back to Colon to begin the relocation process.  Once the animals were crated and transported to Buenos Aires, both the animals and human caretakers flew to Miami, Florida where they connected with one of the Sanctuary’s ground transportation teams.

 

Within 28 hours the animals arrived at their final destination in Keenesburg, Colorado.  Animal care staff at the Sanctuary had spent the previous week preparing special accommodations for the Argentinian refugees, and immediately released the cats and bears into their new homes.

 

All seven animals successfully made the trip to Colorado without incident, but some had lingering medical issues that would require attention.  The male bear was virtually blind due to an advanced case of cataracts, while his female partner suffered from severe dental problems. 

 

Before leaving Argentina, the rescue team discovered the female bear had a significant nasal cavity infection, which had been caused by numerous broken teeth.  Now that both bears are under the care of the Sanctuary’s highly-experienced doctors, both issues will be corrected through specific medical procedures.

 

Once all seven animals receive medical clearances, they will begin a rehabilitation process that enables them to be released into large natural habitats where they will live comfortably and roam freely.  The Sanctuary will continue to care for the animals, as well as feed and support their daily needs on a full time basis, just as they do for all rescued animals living at the facility.

 

Last year marked nearly 37 years of rescuing exotic and endangered animals for the wildlife sanctuary.  The 789-acre facility is located 30 minutes outside of Denver, Colorado and is home to more than 450 large carnivores. The Sanctuary features a 1.5 mile long elevated walkway that recently received the Guinness World Records award for Longest Footbridge – which enables visitors to walk above and observe rescued animals living in spacious habitats.

 

To learn more about The Wild Animal Sanctuary, visit http://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org

 

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World’s Largest Sanctuary Breaks Another Record

LARGEST CARNIVORE SANCTUARY IN THE WORLD OPENS NEW COMPLEX AND IMMEDIATELY BREAKS ANOTHER WORLD RECORD

October 2016

KEENESBURG, CO October 25, 2016 -- Preparations are underway for what will be a record-setting event for a Colorado-based non-profit organization.  On Monday, October 31, 2016 The Wild Animal Sanctuary will celebrate a Trifecta of major milestones when it holds a ribbon-cutting ceremony, breaks a world record and releases a world premiere video all within a single event.

 

The Grand Opening of the new 48,000 square foot Welcome Center and ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. MDT followed by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® presenting the award for the world’s Longest Footbridge at 1:00 p.m. and at 1:30 p.m. the Sanctuary will premiere its new, world-class branding (promotional) video produced by Emmy award winning Stage 2 Studios.

 

The idea and completion of a new Welcome Center is years in the making.  “We realized early on if our guests become uncomfortable, it impedes their learning about the world’s Captive Wildlife Crisis,” says Pat Craig, the Sanctuary’s Executive Director. When TWAS moved to Keenesburg in 1994, no drinking water was available, no bathrooms, no shade, no food. “We always focus on what’s best for the animals, and our visitors get that right away, but people needed food, bathrooms, water and a place to rest,” Craig says.

 

In 2005, with donated concrete products recycled from the T-REX expansion of I-25, TWAS’s first welcome center was built. In that space TWAS sold merchandise and tickets. But the number of guests—more than 200,000 last year—soon outgrew the 2,500 square foot structure, which housed the admissions kiosks, the gift shop and orientation sessions. “It became a log jam,” Craig says.

 

“We needed to address a number of issues,” Craig recalls. “Everything in this new space is in response to what had become an issue in the old space, or was directly requested by the public”.

 

Today, the new complex is flanked by a 10-acre parking lot that alleviates the need for overflow parking and secondary check-in area, which is what the Sanctuary had been utilizing previously.

 

Once inside, guests are greeted by life-size sculptures of African wildlife—created from scrap metal by Kenyan sculptors and shipped directly to TWAS. The sculptures are for sale—and indeed, the first shipment was immediately bought before the new center even opened and donated back to TWAS for a permanent display. Profits from the sale of sculptures are shared with the Kenyan artists.

 

After checking in at one of four admissions kiosks, guests watch the orientation video displayed on wall-size screens. They may shop in the new, spacious gift shop, admire the extensive, interior landscaping and water features, order fresh-cooked food in the new, cafeteria-style restaurant and enjoy treats from the ice cream store.

 

Besides the ice cream shop, restaurant and gift shop, a fourth building is a commissary amply equipped for caterers for TWAS fundraisers as well as private celebrations, family reunions and business dinners, meetings or retreats.

 

The new Welcome Center was built with a loan for rural development from the USDA. It is self-sustaining. “We make sure that anything that costs money for human benefit pays for itself,” Craig explains. The revenues generated in the gift shop, restaurant, ice cream shop and event rentals will go entirely to pay back the USDA loan. All donations and other revenues that are done in honor of or on behalf of the animals continue to go directly to the care of the animals.

 

“We’ve developed amazing ways to take care of and protect our animals,” Craig says. “We wanted to replicate that for our guests, and feel we have succeeded. Everyone can now come, be comfortable, and enjoy the Sanctuary all year long!”

 

At the time of the opening of the new Welcome Center, an additional ½-mile of elevated walkway was also opened—stretching the total length of footbridge to more than 1.5 miles.  It is a one-of-a-kind structure that allows guests to view the Sanctuary’s rescued wild animals without causing the animals stress.

 

With the new addition to its overall length, the walkway will be officially measured by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® on October 31, at which time the walkway will receive the title for world’s Longest Footbridge.

 

Finally, the Sanctuary will proudly premiere its finest-ever promotional or branding video.  Months in the making by Stage 2 Studios and filmed using the absolute latest digital technology it highlights the work and the animals of the Sanctuary like never before.  Based around a poem that will evoke previously-untouched nerves of compassion in the viewer, the work of rescuing some of the world’s most majestic creatures will be made manifest in stunning beauty and artistry.   

 

About The Wild Animal Sanctuary:

Located near Keenesburg, Colorado, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is the largest nonprofit carnivore sanctuary in the World, with over 450 rescued Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves, Leopards and other carnivores living in large acreage natural habitats. Established in 1980, the Sanctuary operates a 720 acre refuge for abused, abandoned and confiscated carnivores and specializes in rehabilitating captive wildlife so they can be released into natural habitats where they can roam freely and live with others of their own kind.  More information is available at www.wildanimalsanctuary.org

 

About Stage 2 Studios:

Stage 2 Studios is an innovative production studio with operations in Denver, Seattle, Alaska and Pittsburgh. Stage 2 serves clients nationwide, specializing in creating media that inspires audiences and ignites growth. In addition, we produce original games and short films featuring intriguing stories and spectacular visuals.  More information is available at www.stage2studios.com

World’s Largest Sanctuary Ends Intense 5 Year Campaign

World’s Largest Sanctuary Ends Intense 5 Year Campaign

December 2015

Contact: Pat Craig – Executive Director – The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Phone: (303) 536-0118

Email: pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org

World’s Largest Sanctuary Ends Intense 5 Year Campaign

 

DECEMBER 1, 2015 (Keenesburg, CO) The Wild Animal Sanctuary has announced it is winding-down a five year campaign to significantly reduce the number of Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other captive large carnivores that get euthanized or die from neglect and abuse each year.

 

“Our goal was to make a major difference in the number of exotic animals that die each year due to illegal or abusive activity by people who try to have a Lion or Tiger as a pet” said Chief Operations Officer Casey Craig.  “We set out to save more animals than has ever been done before, and we surpassed every benchmark in existence.  Our campaign has been a giant success,” adds Craig.

In just under 60 months, the Sanctuary carried out more than 63 separate rescue missions that included 56 within the United States and 7 that were international destinations.  Sanctuary rescue teams traveled to 16 different American States, with under-regulated states like Georgia, Ohio and New York being visited numerous times.  Teams also traveled to 7 different countries, including Canada, Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina and Spain.

 

All told, the Sanctuary’s rescues involved over 170,000 miles of travel and saved the lives of 332 Lions, Tigers, Bears and other large carnivores, as well as an odd Emu, Ostrich or Alpaca on occasion.  Being the primary go-to large carnivore rescue organization in the country for law enforcement and animal welfare agencies, the Sanctuary had its hands full each year throughout the grueling campaign.

 

Building one large acreage habitat after another, the non-profit organization doubled the size of its operation growing from 320 acres to over 720 within the five year period.  Now, with more than sixty habitats on the property, the Sanctuary is able to host an amazing number of fully-functioning African Lion prides (10), as well as 4 large free-roaming Wolf Packs and more than a dozen Bear Clans (totaling 135+ Bruins).

Along with 50+ Tigers and two dozen Mountain Lions and Leopards, the Sanctuary has an impressive collection of rescued carnivores living just 30 miles northeast of the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado.

 

More than 160 volunteers and 45 paid staff worked diligently during the campaign to rehabilitate all 332 animals so they could be released to roam freely within natural habitats ranging from 5 to 25 acres.

 

“We are not a typical sanctuary that just rescues animals and then houses them in small cages,” says Animal Care Director, Becca Miceli.  “We specialize in rehabilitating each rescued animal so they can live freely with others of their own kind, and enjoy a more natural life.”

 

The Sanctuary is now looking toward the next half-decade and has vowed to continue fighting the Captive Wildlife Crisis.  With no lack of animals suffering in the world, Sanctuary officials say they expect to keep rescuing more animals, both within the United States, and abroad, and already have new rescues scheduled to take place in Armenia, Africa, Kuwait, and South America.

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More Press Releases...

For Immediate Release - April, 2016

The Wild Animal Sanctuary  

Pat Craig, Executive Director

pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org

C: 303-536-0118

Pot of gold for 12 Mexican animals at the end of a Colorado rainbow 

When eight young lions, two bobcats, a coyote and a mountain lion came to The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) last summer, TWAS officials wished they could hear the animals’ stories—of their past lives of abuse and neglect—and their transition to lives of serenity on Colorado’s Front Range.

 

                The most extreme example of abuse was that of CanCan, the 12-year old coyote who was tortured in Santeria rituals and hung by his bound front legs for days at a time. He was unable to walk, but is now thriving in a large habitat with running water, cattails, above and below-ground dens, plenty of room and other coyotes.

 

                One of the 11 cats was mountain lion, Pakal, a 4-year old puma who suffered from a common ailment in captive-born large felines:  calcium deficiency and malnutrition. Pakal’s owner had taken his pet to a veterinarian because of four broken legs and simply left him, since he couldn’t afford the medical expenses.

 

                Says TWAS Executive Director Pat Craig, “Wild cats normally consume their mother’s milk for much longer periods than domestic kittens, due to their need for greater levels of calcium while they are growing.  When these high levels of calcium are not received, the bones grow weak, can easily be broken, often have the consistency of rubber and can’t support the cat’s weight.”

 

                 Pakal’s physical infirmities are now healed.  At TWAS he was placed in an enclosure with other mountain lions to adapt to his new life . He is now among the mountain lions who take turns in the large acreage habitat. “And what a miraculous story this is,” says Craig. “This stunning cat went from not even being able to walk to now enjoying the beauty, tranquility and freedom found in our Wild Open Spaces.  No doubt he is chirping thank you to all his supporters.”

 

                Negrito and Silvestre are two bobcats that were kept as pets and eventually confiscated by authorities.  Silvestre lived at a mechanic’s shop alongside a lion that died from neglect, and Negrito lived in a small cage in a family’s backyard. 

 

                Being removed from such unnatural environs has made a world of difference to each of them.  Silvestre had serious dental issues addressed upon arrival. .Negrito has chosen to be mostly nocturnal.  “As a sanctuary, we always allow our animals to choose when and if they want to be seen; never forcing them to be on display,” Craig explains.  “Obviously, we need to see them regularly to know they are healthy, which is why we have wildlife trail cams in strategic locations.  Not at all surprising, our cameras show that Negrito has a very active lifestyle throughout the night and is doing just great!” 

 

                Of the eight African lions, six  (two groups of siblings) came from a zoo that was financially unable to care for them, lacked proper space for them, and was subsequently shut down.

 

                Due to their young age and subdued demeanor, it was fairly easy to bond the two groups of siblings at TWAS, so within days, they were allowed to join and form a unified pride.  They were extremely thin and lacked muscle tone from being confined in small cages.  In addition, their hair was dull, dry and brittle from the lack of proper nutrition.  After only two months in their large habitat  “feasting on a specialized carnivore diet, all are in much better physical shape and frequently run around their territory as a playful mob,” Craig says.

 

                The six have been living next to one of eight circus lion prides previously rescued from Bolivia.  The six youngsters, especially the females, are fascinated with the three large, mature males next door. .Says Craig, “Interacting with that pride through the fence and hearing so many other lions roar and vocalize is helping assure these youngsters grow up knowing what it means to be a lion.

 

                The only male in the group of six, Jupiter, arrived with no mane at all.  However, with much better nutrition and care the past two months, it seems to be starting to grow.

 

                Zimba, a two-and-one-half year old male was originally born in a zoo, but later became a part of a circus. Suffering from an untreated broken rear leg,, Zimba arrived with a mild but noticeable limp. His condition will be monitored and addressed as he is allowed to age gracefully..

 

                The final rescue mission member, Lioness Sanshai, also belonged to a circus but was found abandoned in the middle of a Mexican highway. For almost  five years she was dragged from town to town in a tiny cage. At TWAS she and Zimba were placed together after showing more than a passing interest in each other.  “It didn’t take long for these two unique lions to bond and become true pride-mates,” Craig says. 

 

                These 12 animals represent Mexico’s growing empathy for and ability to care for its abused and neglected animals. Equally important they represent a cooperative effort between TWAS, Bioparque de Pachuca, PROFEPA (La Procuraduria Federal de Proteccion al Ambiente), Mexico’s top environmental protection agency, and the Mexican navy, which transported the animals in two large turbo-prop cargo planes. 

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For Immediate Release - April, 2016

The Wild Animal Sanctuary  

Pat Craig, Executive Director

pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org

C: 303-536-0118

 

Furry Spanish immigrants overcome border woes

 

Despite the hundreds of animals rescued over three decades by The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS), none compared to the rescue of two prides of African lions and one group of grizzly bears from a defunct park  near Barcelona, Spain last year. 

 

                More than 10 years ago, the drive-thru park closed, thanks to  declining attendance and rising costs. The animals that once roamed freely in large acreage habitats were captured and placed inside tiny concrete holding cells. Years passed as the government tried to place them. By 2013, when the group of lions and bears had declined from 28 to 16, TWAS was contacted.

 

                “Working with a number of European and Australian animal welfare agencies, we were asked to commit to rescuing these creatures and getting them to a safe place,” says TWAS Executive Director Pat Craig. “We agreed to help and began planning.”

                Within weeks of agreeing to help, however, TWAS was told the Spanish government was insisting on its own veterinary team to manage the rescue operation within Spain. 

 

                “Naturally, we were concerned,, as we almost always insist on performing the entire rescue mission ourselves,” says Craig.  Planning, executing and finalizing  a rescue’s logistics from beginning to end is complicated,– and even more so for international, transcontinental missions.  “So having an unknown and unverified entity coordinating half of a major rescue mission was extremely concerning.”

 

                Nevertheless, TWAS has worked with animal welfare agencies on international rescues. FAADA The Foundation for the Assessment and Action in Defense of Animals, a well known Spanish animal welfare agency would monitor the situation. “So we felt that this operation would be able to succeed,” he recalls.

 

                Unfortunately, though, as TWAS began to communicate on a daily basis with the head veterinarian, it soon became apparent that he and his company “were in way over their heads,” Craig says.

 

                Nothing went as planned--from  transferring funds to building the transport crates to getting all of the proper permits in place, “We begged FAADA and the Spanish government to let us take over the mission, so the delays and skyrocketing costs would get under control, but they continued to insist their team was the best group in all of Europe and that everything was going well,” Craig says.

 

                Finally, in March of 2015, the animals arrived in Barcelona to fly to Chicago, via Luxemburg. But the veterinarian had scheduled them to arrive on Sunday, despite the Americans insistence that animals cannot arrive on weekends.

 

                “We kept telling both the airlines and the veterinarian there was no way they could follow that flight plan, as the animals would have to sit inside the cargo jet on the tarmac at Chicago for nearly 24 hours waiting for Monday to roll around.  Not only would it be cruel, but also it would violate shipping protocols and United States Fish & Wildlife (USFW) regulations. The only way they finally agreed to not have them arrive on Sunday was after the USFW promised to fine the airline $100,000 if they followed through with the plan,” Craig says.

 

                The airline, however, missed the point, having decided to sit the cargo jet  in Luxemburg for 24 hours with the animals on board and then fly to Chicago on Monday. .In the end TWAS told the Spanish government it would not accept the animals if they did not intervene and help arrange a new flight. 

 

                At nearly double the cost, a new non-stop flight was arranged so that the animals would spend minimum time on the aircraft, and the flight could go directly from Barcelona to Chicago.  It would arrive on Monday morning, and the animals would then be offloaded and driven to Colorado by TWAS caretakers.

 

                The veterinarian arrived in Chicago with the animals—and an array of gross violations of international laws regulating the transport of animals. First, he had sedated the animals during the flight – which is never to be done unless human or animal lives are at stake.

 

                Next, they had packed each transport crate with straw, which represents a major agricultural snafu, since European straw has diseases and insects that could potentially wipe out American crops. 

 

                Finally, he had thrown chunks of raw meat inside each of the crates for the animals to eat, which brings the threat of Mad Cow Disease and other health hazards. 

 

                “So in a nut shell, this expert wildlife veterinarian who theoretically knew what he was doing had suddenly turned our international rescue mission into nothing short of a major biohazard bombshell,” Craig says.

 

                Nevertheless, TWAS offloaded the crates and secured them inside the international shipping area at the airport.  And, interestingly, as TWAS worked with USFW officers and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials, the veterinarian disappeared.

                Reports Craig, “It took a lot of convincing to get the officials to believe he had intentionally evaporated into thin air, but in the end they let us take over and finish clearing the animals and their paperwork.”

 

                The big question was how to deal with the multiple biohazards without making the animals suffer. They couldn’t go into quarantine in Chicago, since no official place existed for a group of large carnivores to stay for any period of time.  And no one wanted to hold them up for days while each item was tackled one by one.

 

                Officials finally allowed TWAS to utilize its sealed, temperature-controlled transport trailers as mobile quarantine units while the animals were hauled to Colorado.  Once home, the team could unload the animals inside a quarantined building while controlling the exposure of everything inside the crates.

 

                “The USDA and other agencies met us at the sanctuary as we arrived,, and we formalized a plan to remove the animals from their crates and clean them so they could be taken to their respective habitats without causing them or the environment any harm.  It wasn’t easy, and it required a large team to undertake this massive cleaning operation, but we were able to do it over the next five days,” Craig says..

 

                Then specialists came to the sanctuary to remove waste and byproducts from the quarantine site and take it to a special furnace where it was incinerated at high temperatures.

 

                “The time had come to set everything right and give these amazing creatures a life that had been long overdue,” Craig says.  Two of the four bears suffered from arthritis. The lions had never experienced a close human connection. 

 

                But with proper medication , good food, open space and focused personal attention, all four bears began to move about their habitats, regaining muscle tone and mobility by summer..

 

                As for the lions, says Craig, ”It’s amazing to watch the five strong males as they’ve restored their kingdom and now stand ready to vanquish any intruders or threats that may come between them and their family pride. Or to see how the females have rebounded and are once again united as one with an incredible sense of community and determination to maintain the family unit.”

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For Immediate Release - October, 2015

The Wild Animal Sanctuary  

Pat Craig, Executive Director

pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org

C: 303-536-0118

PA Bears Rescued After 30+ Years in Concrete and Steel Bar Cells

 

Solitary confinement, endless pacing, physical and mental atrophy, depression, pain and paralysis, filth—this was the life for Bruno and Fifi, two Syrian brown bears, and Pocahontas and Sharon, two black bears, who were imprisoned for 32 and 22 years respectively, in steel-barred cages on a small farm in Pennsylvania—before being rescued by The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS).

 

                Their owner had purchased both sets of bears as cubs to create circus acts. “Yet, like all animals trained for entertainment, they disagreed with the unnatural behaviors that were forced upon them and refused to perform with flawless execution,” explains TWAS Executive Director Pat Craig.”

 

                So he imprisoned them in steel and concrete cages no bigger than most people’s kitchens—for decades. At first they were allowed to play with their respective cellmates. Later they were separated. They paced for years, following the instinctual impulse to forage for food, but finally gave into the pain of their feet and limbs and became virtually paralyzed.

 

                With no pools, tanks or water of any kind, other than a small dish, the bears couldn’t bathe. Other than getting hosed down by a pressure washer when the owner decided to clean their waste, they had no way to clean themselves. Their dens were small plywood boxes that gave no protection from the winter temperatures, and the man purposely kept the bears awake during their normal hibernation cycle because he felt they didn’t need to do what wild bears do.

 

                “We were extremely pleased when PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) officials contacted us to give them a new life with us,” Craig says. Time was a factor, as the owner was selling his farm so he and his elderly wife could move into a retirement home. He was trying to sell the steel-bar cages online and was willing to “throw-in” the bears as a bonus.

 

                With the help of a local zoo veterinarian, who obtained the necessary health certificates, and one of PETA’s contract veterinarians, TWAS’s urgent rescue team drove to Pennsylvania and picked up the bears.

 

                At TWAS, all four bears moved into introduction enclosures inside of large acreage habitats. These enclosures allowed Bruno, Fifi, Sharon and Pocahontas to meet the other bears within the habitat – as well as to get used to the sights, sounds, smells and feeding routines of their new home.

 

                Sharon and Pocahontas, shared sharing their 20-acre habitat with black bears previously rescued from New York and Idaho, while Bruno and Fifi were the inaugural residents of a new 10-acre spread. For the older pair, spending a few days before their enclosure door opened to the large expanse of the habitat was all that was needed.

 

                Although both Fifi and Bruno could barely walk, they were encouraged by the green grass and real terra firma beneath their feet. Sadly, their hips lacked principal muscle, and their joints were obviously arthritic and pain-ridden. Neither bear made it very far.  “Yet, their spirits remained gleeful with the prospect of freedom, so they opted to go for a dip in their water tank instead,” Craig recalls.

 

                Soon, with apples added to the tank, both bears were splashing and bobbing for the fruit like a couple of adolescent farm boys in the old stock tank on a hot summer afternoon! “In and out, and up and down, it was a wonderful sight to see, as each was wound with emotion, excitement and a new-found energy that amazed us all,” he adds. Within five months, he says, “FIfi was a new bear,” with a lustrous coat, meat on her limbs and the desire and ability to hibernate.

 

                Sharon and Pocahontas were more reserved in the beginning, partly due to the other bears that made their way over to say hello. Their enclosure door was fully opened after a week, and Inch-by-inch, they began to expand their territory into the great beyond.

 

                “We look forward to continuing to help these bears with their rehabilitation and recovery,” says Craig.

 

 

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______________________________________________________________________________________________

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

 

Contact:       

Stephanie Filer | Animal Rescue League of Iowa | 

Sgt. Halifax | Des Moines Police | 

Mark Vukovich | Blank Park Zoo |

Pat Craig | The Wild Animal Sanctuary | 

Tom Weidner | World of Reptiles | 

 

                                                                                               

31 Wild Animals Removed from Merle Hay Mall Early Saturday Morning

Five agencies partner to remove the 21 different species as part of a court order

 

December 27, 2014 (Des Moines, Iowa) – At 6:00 a.m., officials began removing all of the animals at Merle Hay Mall from the space formerly known as the Pella Wildlife Company.  Thirty one animals in total, from 21 different species were included in the two hour process. 

 

The animals became property of the City of Des Moines after a court order to evict Pella Wildlife Company from Merle Hay Mall was executed. 

 

“According to the city ordinance, city officials had the option to euthanize all of the animals once they received ownership, but fortunately everyone was on the same page that this was simply not an option,” said Tom Colvin, Executive Director at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), “Instead, we all went to work to find the best solution for the animals that were now in limbo – and the Wild AnimalSanctuary in Colorado, in addition to Blank Park Zoo and World of Reptiles in Des Moines all stepped up to help.”

 

Officials from each agency were on-site on Saturday to ensure a safe and humane removal of the animals from the mall and into vehicles where they were transported to their new locations.  All of the animals will now live in highly reputable sanctuaries and educational environments.

 

The Wild Animals Sanctuary took all of the animals they are licensed in Colorado to accept, including all of the existing family units and 5 fox, 5 grey wolves, 3 black bears, a cougar, a bengal cat, a bobcat, a lynx, and a coyote.

 

“We are very glad we were able to assist the City of Des Moines and the Merle Hay Mall in removing the large carnivores from this facility, and we are confident we will be able to provide them with a far more appropriate environment,” said Pat Craig, Executive Director at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS), “We have been rescuing animals like these from strange and unnatural environments for over 35 years and see miraculous changes in their health, demeanor and vitality once they are provided natural environments where they can live and roam freely.  We expect each animal to make the transition very quickly, and will soon be enjoying their new life in Colorado.”

  

The Blank Park Zoo has been assisting with the on-site care of the animals since the court order and will continue to care for a barn owl, harris hawk, hognose snake, and a skunk.

 

“The non-profit Blank Park Zoo provided over $800 of services a day that ranged from animal care and veterinary services to maintenance of the facility. We did this so the animals wouldn’t be euthanized and a place could be found where the animals would be well cared for and thrive. I want to thank our staff who went the extra mile during the holiday season. We now call on our elected representatives to tighten regulations on the ownership of exotic animals,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO of Blank Park Zoo.

 

World of Reptiles assisted by accepting a ribbon snake, black rat snake, northern water snake, racer, and an alligator into their educational programs.

 

The Animal Rescue League is providing temporary care for a raccoon, porcupine, opossum, and armadillo until a permanent placement option is secured.

 

Today’s rescue concludes many months of work among these animal organizations, along with the City of Des Moines and Merle Hay mall.  More information on how the public can help support this work can be found on each organization’s respective websites.

 

 

About Animal Rescue League of Iowa

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is Iowa’s largest nonprofit animal shelter, serving over 21,000 pets each year.  The ARL serves people and pets from across the state through pet adoption, humane education, pet behavior training, spay/neuter, animal cruelty intervention and much more.  In Des Moines, the ARL is contracted through the City of Des Moines to provide animal control services, handling all animal cases in the city.  For more information visit ARL-Iowa.org.

 

About Wild Animals Sanctuary

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for more than 400 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a “Mile Into The Wild” Walkway that visitors utilize to see rescued animals living in natural habitats. 

 

About Blank Park Zoo

The mission of the Blank Park Zoo, Iowa’s WILDEST Adventure, is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education and recreation. The Zoo is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. everyday this winter except January 1. Admission rates are $11 for adults, $6 for children under 12, and $9 for seniors and active military. Children two years and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at http://www.blankparkzoo.com. The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.

 

About World of Reptiles

World of Reptiles is a live reptile exhibit that has been a part of the Iowa State Fair for nearly 40 years and gives people a chance to see many reptiles from around the world. They exhibit some reptiles that the public is not allowed to possess such as an alligator or a Burmese Python and explain why they cannot have them. The goal is that after they leave that they have a new respect for reptiles. After the Fair all reptiles are kept in a private facility and are used throughout the year for educational programs, as needed.

 

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______________________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release - Friday, Jan. 24, 2014

The Wild Animal Sanctuary  

Pat Craig, Executive Director

pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org

C: 303-536-0118

 

Colorado Sanctuary Rescued 54 Large Carnivores in 2013
 

DENVER – The Wild Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit Sanctuary exclusively dedicated to rescuing captive exotic and endangered large carnivores, saved 54 animals throughout the United States and Mexico from inhumane conditions in 2013.

 

“From South Carolina to Florida and three cities in Mexico, we worked tirelessly to rescue abused, abandoned and illegally kept wildlife,” said Pat Craig, Wild Animal Sanctuary Director.  “All the animals we rescue, including last year’s newest additions, are treated like family and live in large acreage habitats with the highest quality care and nutrition available for the rest of their lives.”

 

One rescue took Craig and his team to Florida to save five black bears, three mountain lions and three Kodiak grizzly bears after a privately owned amusement park closed. The  team also rescued six black bears from South Carolina that were being used for bear baying/baiting, a barbaric blood sport that involves removing bears’ canine teeth and often filing down their claws then tethering them while trained fighting dogs attack them.

 

“After years of torment and agony, these bears have been given a second chance at The Wild Animal Sanctuary,” said Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection at The Humane Society of the United States which led the effort to end bear baying and baiting in South Carolina. “We remain grateful for the Sanctuary coming to the bears’ aid and allowing them to live out their lives in a new 10-acre habitat."

Last year marked nearly 34 years of rescuing exotic and endangered large carnivores for The Wildlife Sanctuary.  The 720-acre sanctuary is located 30 minutes outside of Denver and is home to more than 330 animals. The facility features a “Mile into the Wild” walkway bridge that allows over 200,000 annual visitors to view the animals in their spacious habitats as well as a newly renovated education center.

 

“Right now there are more than 30,000 large carnivores being kept as pets in our nation, which is known as the Captive Wildlife Crisis,” said Casey Craig, Wild Animal Sanctuary Operations Director.  “Every day we work to inform our visitors about this epidemic so they can help us continue fighting for solutions such as banning public contact with tiger, lion and bear cubs and restricting possession of these dangerous predators to only qualified, professionally run facilities.  We will never stop working to save as many of these animals as possible.”

 

 
Colorado Sanctuary Rescues Zanesville, Ohio Exotic Animals
 

Keenesburg, CO – October 9, 2012 – As the one year anniversary approaches marking the horrific exotic animal tragedy in Zanesville, Ohio last October, The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) has been called in by the State of Ohio to rescue four African Lions and four Black Bears that were originally owned by the man who was responsible for the disaster.   

 

Terry Thompson is the man who was responsible for letting his collection of 56 exotic animals loose before killing himself on October 18, 2011 in Zanesville, Ohio. The tragedy made headlines worldwide as 48 of those innocent animals were killed by law enforcement officials in order to protect the surrounding community. The six animals that survived were temporarily taken to the Columbus Zoo until they were given back to Thompson’s widow earlier this year.  

 

Terry Thompson had asked his Mount Perry neighbor, Andrea Morris, a couple years ago if the four Lions and four Bears could live on her land because he didn’t have enough room for them on his property. Once Morris agreed, Thompson and his wife Marian built very small and unsafe cages out of wood and regular fencing for the animals - leaving Morris to care for them the best she could. The conditions of the cages became a big concern for Sheriff William R Barker after the Thompson catastrophe. Since then, Sheriff William R Barker and the Ohio Department of Agriculture have been working closely with Morris over the last year on a surrender/confiscation deal to place them at a Sanctuary. Since TWAS is the largest Sanctuary in the United States, and has its own fleet of specialized vehicles, it is one of the only organizations that can safely rescue a large number of exotic animals at one time.

 

Some of the females are also speculated to be pregnant since they have been living with intact males - which could potentially double the number of animals being rescued. All of the male lions and bears will be neutered upon arrival to eliminate future breeding. After all of the animals go through the Sanctuary’s intensive rehabilitation process, they will live in species specific large acreage habitats, and roam freely for the rest of their lives.

 

The Sanctuary has been working closely with the state of Ohio since 1980, and has rescued more than 40 animals from terrible facilities located throughout the state. Ohio has notoriously been one of the worst states for exotic animal ownership in the U.S. due to their previous lack of laws and regulations. In lieu of the Zanesville tragedy, the state of Ohio has since created a law that now bans the purchase of dangerous animals. It also requires current owners of exotic animals to register with the state by November 5, 2012. A complete ban on the acquisition, sale and breeding of restricted animals including large cats will take effect in 2014.

 

Owners also have to obtain a state-issued wildlife shelter permit by 2014 after passing a background check and site check, as well as obtaining liability insurance and paying the permit fees. If the owner fails to meet the state’s requirements, or fails to register for a permit, the animals will be confiscated by the state.

“This rescue will probably be one of many for the Sanctuary as Ohio continues their statewide efforts to crack down on illegal exotic animal ownership, said Sanctuary Executive Director, Pat Craig. The Zanesville incident was extremely unfortunate, but it forced Ohio to create and enforce stricter laws and regulations which will ultimately save thousands of animals in the future. We are ecstatic to give these animals the life they truly deserve, said Craig, as their rescue helps shine a positive light on a dark day in history.”

 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is also currently working on rescuing a famous wild Black Bear from California named “Meatball.” More information on the status of that rescue can be found at www.homelessbear.org.

About The Wild Animal Sanctuary:

 

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, Inc., DBA The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for more than 290 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a “Mile Into The Wild” Walkway that visitors utilize to see the animals in natural habitats. 

_______________________________

 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary Helps Launch Master’s Degree Program
 

Keenesburg, CO – June 13, 2012 – The oldest and largest non-profit Sanctuary in the United States has collaborated with various Zoos, Aquariums and other animal shelters around the U.S.  to develop a two year Professional Science Master’s Program at one of the country’s leading Veterinarian Schools.

 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) has been working with Colorado State University (CSU) and the other animal organizations for several months to help develop the comprehensive program. The CSU program is designed for students to get a multi-disciplinary education in both animal care and business management. Not only will the program include rigorous courses in five different colleges at the University, but will also provide students with critical hands-on experience in those fields. The combination of education and experience will allow the students to become highly qualified workers with a greater potential for being hired after graduation. The Wild Animal Sanctuary knows there is a definite need for this type of program as it is very difficult to find qualified professionals in the organization’s unique field of work - as it currently cares for over 290 rescued Large Carnivores and is a privately funded non-profit.

 

The Sanctuary’s Founder and Executive Director, Pat Craig, serves on the advisory board and will also lecture for some of the courses. Craig’s 32 years of experience in captive large carnivore behavior and sanctuary development has led him to being an expert in the field which makes him a key component to the program. Opportunities will also be available for students to do intensive internships at the organization so they can be involved in all aspects of the daily operations. “We are extremely excited and honored to be working closely with CSU on this program. It is not only imperative to have a passion for animals, but to also have the proper education and experience. The Sanctuary will benefit tremendously as it is critical for every non-profit to have employees that are cross-trained in all aspects of the field, said Craig about the benefits of the CSU Master’s Degree.

 

The new program has already begun enrolling students for the fall semester and the last day to apply for the semester is August 2nd, 2012. For more information on the program, go towww.natsci.colostate.edu/graduate/psm.

 

About The Wild Animal Sanctuary:

 

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, Inc., DBA The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for more than 290 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a “Mile Into The Wild” Walkway that visitors utilize to see the animals in natural habitats.

###

 Media Contacts:       Pat Craig, Executive Director - pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org - 303-536-0118

                                               Katie Vandegrift, Public Relations Director - katie@wildlife-sanctuary.org

 

_______________________________

 

“Mile Into the Wild” Walkway Now Open
 

Keenesburg, CO –– May 23, 2012 –– One of the longest and most unique elevated walkways in the world is now open at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS).

 

The monumental “Mile Into The Wild” Walkway stretches over 4,800 feet in length and gives visitors unprecedented access to over 290 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other Large Carnivores roaming freely in natural habitats. The walkway connects the Sanctuary’s original complex at the south end of the facility to the 4,000 square foot observation deck inside the state of the art Bolivian Lion House that sits on the northern edge of its current habitat system.

 

After the Bolivian Lion Rescue received extensive media coverage in 2011, TWAS had a record breaking year with close to 100,000 visitors and expects more than 150,000 visitors in 2012. “Education is a crucial aspect of our mission so it was very important to expand our educational capacity as we continue to grow every year.  The more people we can educate about the captive wildlife crisis, the greater the likelihood of us putting an end to this tragic plight,” said Executive Director, Pat Craig, about the importance of the expansion. With the purchase of an additional 400 acres in 2011, with the help of a generous benefactor, the facility will continue to expand the walkway on the new property as more habitats are developed.

An additional entrance and parking lot have been built on the northern end of the property to accommodate the Sanctuary’s growing number of visitors. With the Sanctuary being located in a rural setting, another big improvement has been made with the county road being paved - which gives visitors a comfortable drive to the facility. TWAS also recently launched a wildlife audio tour where visitors use their cell phones to learn more interesting facts and stories about the animals they are viewing from the walkway. “We are very excited to provide our guests with this new feature to enhance their visit. Pat Craig narrated the tour so it feels as if you are getting a private tour from the organizations Founder and Executive Director,” said Katie Vandegrift, the Sanctuary’s Public Relations Director. 

 

With the remarkable access of the new walkway, TWAS continues to pioneer how Large Carnivores are viewed by the public, as well as how they are cared for. There is no other place in the country where you can see prides of Lions roaming freely, or packs of Wolves living together in large acreage habitats. The facility is a prime example that places do not have to sacrifice an animal’s space and comfort in order to be open to the public. TWAS is quickly becoming a world class destination, as people from all over the world are coming to the Sanctuary to experience its wide open spaces and see hundreds of rescued animals.

The non-profit organization implemented a “Mile Into The Wild” funding campaign several years ago to help off-set the enormous costs of the educational project. People continue to help fund the project today by purchasing customized bronze plaques that are mounted on the walkway to commemorate their support. More information on the campaign can be found by going to their web site at www.wildanimalsanctuary.org

About The Wild Animal Sanctuary:

 

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, Inc., DBA The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for more than 290 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a unique system of observation decks and walkways that visitors utilize to see the animals in natural habitats.

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 Media Contacts:        Pat Craig, Executive Director - pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org - 303-536-0118

                                                

_______________________________

 

Colorado Sanctuary Rescues Three More Large Carnivores
 

Keenesburg, CO – April 25, 2012 – The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) traveled over 3,300 miles in less than four days to rescue three more animals that were in dire need of a lifelong home.

 

The first stop on the extensive rescue trip was in Ontario, Canada at a wildlife rehabilitation center where a twelve year old African Lioness named Subira was being held after being confiscated by someone who was illegally keeping her as a pet. Zoocheck Canada, an animal welfare organization based in Toronto, had been following Subira’s story and contacted The Wild Animal Sanctuary to find a permanent home for the Lionesses.  Through their research, Zoocheck Canada chose TWAS since it was the only Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere where she could be paired with other Lions and be able to roam freely.

“Lions have an innate desire to live with other Lions in a pride-like system so it is an injustice to make naturally social animals live by themselves. We commend Zoocheck and the rehabilitation center for recognizing that the Lionesses deserved a life with other Lions and decided to contact us, said Executive Director, Pat Craig. The Lioness is currently living in our state of the art Bolivian Lion House while she goes through the rehabilitation process. Once she becomes acclimated to her new environment, she will join a pride at TWAS.”

 

The 720 acre Sanctuary currently has six African Lion prides and plans to create new ones as more Lions are rescued and more habitats are developed.

 

This is the third international Lion rescue TWAS has successfully completed within the last year. In February 2011, 25 African Lions were rescued in conjunction with Animal Defenders International from eight different circuses throughout Bolivia after the government banned the use of animals in circus acts. Seven months later, in September 2011, TWAS rescued three extremely malnourished Lionesses from Panama that had spent their entire lives in a tiny concrete and steel cage on a fairground outside of Chorrera. All of the Lions have since gone through the Sanctuary’s rehabilitation process and are living on 80 acres of natural habitats.

On the way back from Canada, TWAS rescued two Wolves in Ohio that were also temporarily living at a Husky rescue center while they waited for a permanent home. Fidget, a young white Arctic Wolf, came from a facility where the owner suddenly died and no one was able to care for the animals. TWAS already rescued three Black Bears from the same facility several months ago, and they are all now roaming freely in a large acreage habitat with other Bears. The second Wolf, a young Timber Wolf named Aztec, was confiscated after being illegally kept as a pet and was then brought to the center. TWAS agreed to rescue the pair of Wolves because they had bonded and did not want to separate them.

 

While the Wolves get accustomed to their new home, they are living in an enclosure on the western end of the Sanctuary. Wolves also thrive in social groupings, so Aztec and Fidget will eventually join one of the Sanctuary’s existing wolf packs in a large acreage habitat where they will live for the rest of their lives.

The Sanctuary is one of the only facilities in the country that has the capabilities to rescue and transport Large Carnivores, as it has a fleet of specialized vehicles outfitted with climate controls and other amenities for transporting animals. Both of the rescues were filmed by a National Geographic Crew and will air with other international rescues in three one hour specials.

 

About The Wild Animal Sanctuary:

 

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, Inc., DBA The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for nearly 300 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a mile long elevated walkway that allows visitors to stroll over habitats to see and learn more about the rescued animals.

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 Media Contacts:       Pat Craig, Executive Director - pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org - 303-536-0118

                                                Katie Vandegrift, Public Relations Director - katie@wildlife-sanctuary.org

_______________________________

 

Panamanian Lions Airlifted to Colorado
 

Keenesburg, CO – September 28 2011 –In a highly coordinated effort, officials from the Panamanian Government, FedEx Air Cargo, and The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) airlifted three female African Lions to a wildlife refuge in Colorado this morning.  

 

Found in the small town of Chorrera outside of Panama City, the three sibling African Lions - ranging in age from 15-18 years old - had lived their entire lives being neglected and physically abused.  Kept in tiny concrete and steel cages, the Lions were fed small amounts of whatever food local charity organizations could muster.

 

“The Lions are displaying obvious signs of neglect, being extremely small in stature, very lethargic, and critically underweight.  These are clear signs that poor nutrition, cramped spaces and a complete lack of medical attention has taken its toll on them.” said Wild Animal Sanctuary Director, Pat Craig.  “They have spent the last decade waiting for someone to save them.  One animal welfare organization after another had promised to get involved and help secure a better home for these three girls, but no one would actually follow through and come get them.”

 

TWAS plans to provide the Lions with much needed medical attention while closely observing them over the next several months as they go through the Sanctuary’s rehabilitation process. Once the Lions are healthy and acclimated to their new environment, they will be released into a large acreage natural habitat where they will live for the rest of their lives.

 

Over the past couple months TWAS was able to bring together several key organizations to help make the rescue possible. Within Panama, the National Authority for the Environment (ANAM) worked diligently to secure legal releases needed for the Lions to leave Panama, while Tocumen Airport officials assisted with all of the logistics related to staging the Lions for when they would arrive at the airport.

 

In addition to providing logistical support for the rescue team, Gamboa Rainforest Resort also donated vehicles to transport the Lions to the capital city where a FedEx Air Cargo plane awaited their arrival.  “FedEx played a decisive role in this rescue, as they graciously donated the Lions’ transportation to the U.S. Without the help of their dedicated staff, these Lions might have never obtained the freedom they deserved” said Craig. 

 

The Panama rescue is the second international rescue TWAS has successfully accomplished in the last seven months. In February 2011, 25 African Lions were rescued in conjunction with Animal Defenders International from eight different circuses throughout Bolivia after the government banned the use of animals in circus acts. After completing the Sanctuary’s rehabilitation process, the Lions now roam freely on 80 acres of rolling grasslands. “We are extremely honored to have the opportunity to save three more African Lions from a life of despair, and give them the life they deserve in wild open spaces,” said Katie Vandegrift, the Sanctuary’s Public relations Director. Both of the international rescues have been filmed by a National Geographic with the stories airing sometime in the near future.

 

About The Wild Animal Sanctuary:

 

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, Inc., DBA The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for more than 290 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a unique system of observation decks and walkways that visitors utilize to see the animals in natural habitats.

###

 Media Contacts:       Pat Craig, Executive Director - pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org - 303-536-0118

                          Katie Vandegrift, Public Relations Director - katie@wildlife-sanctuary.org

_______________________________

 

Two More Bolivian Lion Prides To Be Released
 

 Keenesburg, CO – June 30, 2011 – The final 2 prides of African Lions rescued from Bolivian circuses will soon be roaming freely on 40 acres of rolling grasslands at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS), as they are scheduled to be released on July 5, 2011.

 

 One of the prides consisting of one male and two female Lions suffered from years of physical abuse and neglect in the circus. They had severe mouth problems requiring major dental work, which extended the length of their rehabilitation, and delaying their release.

 

 The other pride that will be released includes three cubs that were only 7 weeks old when they were rescued, but had been separated with their mother from the other members of their pride so circus workers could steal them for photograph sessions with customers. “It is very rewarding to know these cubs will not have to endure years of hardship in the circus like their family members had, and will instead be able to roam freely in wild open spaces,” said Executive Director Pat Craig. After months of being separated, the cubs and their mother were able to rejoin the pride, since the cubs had recently reached a suitable age and weight. The reunited pride of 7 will now be released into one of the Sanctuary’s large acreage habitats where they can live together for the rest of their lives.

 

The Lions were rescued from eight different circuses throughout Bolivia after the government banned the use of animals in circus acts. Upon arrival in Colorado, the 25 big cats were temporarily housed in a state of the art 15,000 square foot biosphere-like building featuring natural amenities such as grass and trees while they went through the Sanctuary’s rehabilitation process. 

 

 During their rehabilitation, four distinct prides were formed in order to allow the Lions to live in a more natural state. Two prides have already been rehabilitated and released into large acreage habitats, with the remaining two scheduled to be released in a matter of days.  Craig says, “All of the Lions are doing remarkably well, and we are extremely excited to be able to release these final two prides. Everyone who has worked so hard to save these Lions is looking forward to seeing them enjoying their freedom and the quality of life they deserve.”

 

 About The Wild Animal Sanctuary:

 

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, Inc., DBA The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for more than 290 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a unique system of observation decks and walkways that visitors utilize to see the animals in natural habitats.

###

Media Contacts:               Pat Craig, Executive Director - pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org- 303-536-0118

                                                      Katie Vandegrift, Public Relations Director - katie@wildlife-sanctuary.org

 _______________________________

 

Wild Animal Sanctuary Doubles Its Size Through Generous Land Gift
 

Keenesburg, CO – June 13, 2011 – With the help of a generous benefactor, The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) recently added 400 acres to its facility located Northeast of Denver, CO.  The gift elevates the Sanctuary’s acreage to 720, making it the largest free-roaming carnivore sanctuary in the western hemisphere. 

 

The million dollar acquisition was made possible through the purchase and donation of land by a supporter who stepped forward in strong support of the Sanctuary’s “Wild Open Spaces” campaign.  The campaign enables the Sanctuary to continue providing natural habitats for newly rescued Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores that were confiscated from illegal or abusive situations.

 

 When asked about the importance of the deal, Sanctuary Executive Director, Pat Craig, stated “Adding more acreage for habitats and natural buffers is critical to our overall mission.  It’s the key element enabling us to provide unprecedented freedom and quality of life to the animals we rescue. We are extremely grateful to have received such an amazing and openly generous gift, and we look forward to being able to utilize the land so more rehabilitated Lions, Tigers & Bears can enjoy the freedom they deserve!”

 

The Sanctuary currently has more than 20 large acreage habitats covering 320 acres, and plans to utilize the new land for some of its current residents, as well as future rescues.  Lists of recently rescued animals taking advantage of the Sanctuary’s Wild Open Space Campaign include 25 African Lions rescued from Bolivia.

Craig goes on to say, “The other benefit of adding more land is that children and adults alike will gain unparalleled access to viewing large carnivores living freely. As more people contribute to our “Mile Into The Wild” walkway project, we will be able to expand our network of elevated catwalks and decks over new habitats - which will greatly increase our educational capacity.”

 

About The Wild Animal Sanctuary:

 

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, Inc., DBA The Wild Animal Sanctuary is now a 720 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for more than 290 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a unique system of observation decks and elevated walkways that visitors utilize to see the animals in natural habitats.

###

Media Contacts:               Pat Craig, Executive Director - pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org- 303-536-0118

                                                     Katie Vandegrift, Public Relations Director - katie@wildlife-sanctuary.org

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The Wild Animal Sanctuary is the Recipient of a Large Gift
 

Keenesburg, CO – June 3, 2011 – The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) is receiving a wonderful gift in the amount of $100,000.00 from the estate of an avid animal lover.

 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary has proudly been named one of the main beneficiaries in the late Sam Goldman estate. The representatives of Mr. Goldman’s estate will present the check to TWAS on the morning of June 6, 2011.

 

Sam Goldman had a great love of wild animals and specifically wanted his assets to go toward charitable organizations whose mission is to protect and care for animals. After his representatives visited The Wild Animal Sanctuary and met with Executive Director, Pat Craig, they decided it was the perfect fit for Mr. Goldman’s wishes. “We commend Sam Goldman for wanting to help the animals he cared for so much. It is the remarkable generosity of people like Mr. Goldman that allows us to continue our mission”, said Pat Craig.

The donation will help The Wild Animal Sanctuary continue its mission of rescuing large carnivores from abusive or illegal situations and provide them lifelong homes on wild open spaces. TWAS is currently home to more than 290 large carnivores and feeds more than 19,000 pounds of food per week. The Wild Animal Sanctuary was recently part of a history making rescue involving 25 African Lions confiscated from circuses in Bolivia. All of the Lions have been rehabilitated and now roam freely in a natural 80 acre habitat. The cost to feed, house and care for the new Lions is nearly $200,000 a year, so Mr. Goldman’s generous donation will help the Sanctuary offset these costs.

 

About The Wild Animal Sanctuary: 

 

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, Inc., DBA The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 320 acre refuge for large carnivores that have been confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado near the town of Keenesburg. The non-profit organization currently cares for more than 290 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores and provides lifelong care for its rescued animals.  The Sanctuary is the oldest and largest carnivore sanctuary in existence, having been in operation since 1980.  The facility is distinctive among others in that it provides large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in and roam freely. The Sanctuary is open daily to the public for educational purposes and features a unique system of observation decks and elevated walkways that visitors utilize to see the animals in natural habitats.

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 Media Contacts:               Pat Craig, Executive Director - pat@wildlife-sanctuary.org- 303-536-0118

                                                     Katie Vandegrift, Public Relations Director - katie@wildlife-sanctuary.org

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 Background Info.
 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is the oldest and largest nonprofit Sanctuary in the US dedicated exclusively to rescuing captive exotic and endangered large carnivores, providing them with a wonderful life for as long as they live, and educating about the tragic plight faced by an estimated 30,000 such animals in America today.

Established by Executive Director Pat Craig in 1980, The Wild Animal Sanctuary, is a state and federally licensed zoological facility and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Originally started on Pat’s family farm outside Boulder, CO, TWAS soon moved to Lyons, CO, where there was more room for the animals, and to provide for future expansion. After eight years in that location, TWAS was forced to move again due to a limestone quarry moving in nearby. The Sanctuary currently sits on 720 acres 30 miles northeast of Denver, CO. There is plenty of space for the animals’ with over 60 large acreage habitats, along with room to grow while still maintaining large grassland buffers.

TWAS is now located near Keenesburg, Colorado, (link to map), and we are open for visitors year round, daily, 9am-Sunset, except major Holidays and bad weather. 

The Sanctuary is located on rural, rolling grasslands about 50 miles east of the Rocky Mountains. Comprising 720 acres and sheltering more than 450 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Leopards, Mountain Lions, Wolves and other large carnivores, it is the first sanctuary of its kind to create large acreage species-specific habitats for its rescued animals.


Since January, 1980, The Wild Animal Sanctuary has responded to nearly 1,000 requests from private citizens and government agencies to rescue animals from across the United States and in Mexico. Our furry residents were abused, abandoned, illegally kept, or were victims of other terrible situations.  At TWAS, the animals come first! Providing expert care and rehabilitation, exceptional diets and enrichment, and large spaces in which to roam make life for our rescued animals the kind of life they would have if they could choose it.   Education about the Captive Wildlife Crisis…its causes and solutions…is critical to changing social consciousness today, in order to provide a better future for captive wild animals. TWAS welcomes visitors, school groups and organizations to our Education Center at the Sanctuary, and also has a Speakers Bureau whose members do presentations for a variety of businesses, universities and other organizations.


A shocking statistic about America’s Captive Wildlife Crisis…the illicit exotic animal trade is the third largest source of illegal profits in the world today, just after illegal drugs and weapons! In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 30,000 captive large carnivores living outside the zoo system. There are 4,000 Tigers living as “pets” in private homes in just the state of Texas – more Tigers than exist in the wild throughout the world. Countless other Great Cats, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores live in abusive conditions in roadside stands, circuses, magic acts, traveling shows, and other substandard situations. Untold numbers of animals suffer and die each year due to neglect, abuse or because they are abandoned and left to die, starving and alone.


Public Safety is also a serious issue. Every year, people get hurt or killed by captive wild animals that have not been properly housed, or because the people were allowed to be in unsafe situations by the animals’ owners or keepers. TWAS is called upon by local, state and national law enforcement agencies to ensure public safety in situations where the public and/or animals are at risk.

The three main points of our mission…to rescue captive large carnivores who have been abused, abandoned, illegally kept or exploited…to create for them a wonderful life for as long as they live…and to educate about the causes and solutions to the Captive Wildlife Crisis…these things are what we commit to for the animals, and for the humans who help to make a positive difference for them.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss a possible project or learn more about our work.

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