The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Friday was our Wedding Anniversary. I took the day off and we dropped the kids off with Grandma (thanks Rita!) and Julie and I went to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg just a little ways north-east of Denver.

Apparently they’re the world’s largest carnivore sanctuary with over 400 predators. Mostly lions, tigers and bears rescued from awful captivity situations and rehabilitated to roam on over 700 acres of land.

They have a really neat setup where the visitors walk through the animals habitats but on an elevated walkway. There are fences to contain the animals but the visitors are well above them looking down on the animals from a safe distance. It’s quite an experience.

We arrived just before 9AM, when the facility opens and it was a bit cooler than normal due to a dense fog. That really worked to our advantage though as the fog quickly burned off and it was close to 100 by noon. But early morning saw the animals still fairly active.

Here’s some of the highlights –

There were lots of tigers, most of them were in individual areas next to each other. The staff explained that, unlike lions, tigers aren’t naturally social animals so it takes a lot more time and effort to get them to the point where they can safely be release into a larger group setting. Indeed we watch a pair taking turns stalking each other and lunging at their shared wall anytime the other turned his back.

Their tigers were beautiful creatures and the sole white tiger was particularly striking.

White Tiger
White Tiger
Tiger
Tiger
Tiger
Tiger
Tiger
Tiger
Tiger
Tiger
Tiger
Tiger

Here’s a selfie (of sorts), Julie and I looking at a wolf.

Shadows above a wolf
Shadows above a wolf

There were two separate lion prides on the grounds. We caught them both during a migration out of the sun into their man-made dens. Incredible creatures.

Lion
Lion
Lion
Lion

There were several packs of wolves of different types but all of them seemed to think the day was already too warm by 10AM. Makes you wish you could visit after dark and see them more active.

Grey Wolf
Grey Wolf

The star of the day was a baby bear. They don’t normally have young animals but this was a four month old bear that they rescued from captivity and were trying to place with a surrogate mother. Apparently this was the first time he’d been out to explore his larger habitat. We spent at least an hour watching him running around and then taking a long bath in the pond. It was really fun watching him grow from tentatively pawing at the edges of the water to jumping around and splashing with reckless abandon.

Baby Bear
Baby Bear
Baby Bear
Baby Bear
Baby Bear
Baby Bear
Baby Bear
Baby Bear