Colorado group provides “Sanctuary” for abused captive wild animals

In a National Geographic Wildlife Watch article by Scott Wallace last week featured the work and philosophy of the privately run, Wild Animal Sanctuary. Located 30 miles northeast of Denver, stretching across 720 acres, the sanctuary provides care for a staggering menagerie of nearly 400 wild animals—most of them large carnivores including African lions, U.S. bobcats, Siberian lynx and South American jaguars rescued from illegal or inhumane captive environments.


Pat Craig, founder and executive director of the sanctuary is providing a semi-wild existence for captive-bred wild animals that were obtained from shopping malls and amusement parks; confiscated from filthy backyard pens and fly-by-night circuses, and seized from homes of convicted drug dealers. They’ve been drugged, beaten, and left to die in their own waste in tiny cages.

Wallace explains, by virtue of their size, voracious appetites, and predatory instincts, many had simply outgrown their owners’ ability to care for them. Several had reached the point of despair and self-mutilation. Some faced imminent euthanasia. Whatever their species and individual histories, all of these unfortunate creatures point to a growing and largely hidden crisis: the plight of tens of thousands of wild animals held in captivity often in appalling conditions around the United States and the world.”

Outreach director, Kent Drotar, said a male lion named Yuma arrived at the sanctuary in 2008 from a circus in Mexico. “But this isn’t the wild, Drotar explains, they are not hunting for food, looking for a mate, or raising their young. That’s the great crime of captive-bred wildlife; they can never be the wild animals they were supposed to be.”

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