Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wild Animal Sanctuary

Back in late October, Laura, Kirk and I went to the Wild Animal Sanctuary east of Denver. Way out on the flat prairie, a kind soul named Pat Craig corralled 720 acres and the non-profit now hosts nearly 300 wild animals, including lions, tigers, bears, leopards, mountain lions and wolves. After months of promising myself to go, I finally made it.

At the information hut, I read a ton about every wild animal out there but do I remember anything? Nope. However, there is one thing that stuck in my head: Mountain Lions are the largest feline that purrs. There's your Large Kitty Trivia of the week.

Naturally, I took many a photo but there's only so much you can shoot of a cat-from-above.

I liked these two - they frantically paced in unison the entire time. I wonder what made them so nervous?

It was hard to tell how much of that large acreage was actually being used but the happy volunteers excitedly told us about plans to expand. Animal sanctuaries, as necessary as they may be, are sad places. Unlike zoos, circuses or marine mammal parks, these animals are done 'working.' Nearly every animal has a similar story about either escaping abuse, neglect or at the very least, no knowledge of their wild birthright whatsoever. Places like this one take a ton of space, lots of people who care and a boat load of cash to keep them running.

This is Eddy the Black leopard. He had his own show on Animal Planet, "Growing Up Black Leopard." Fortunately, he was born at the sanctuary and grew up literally in the Craig home with tons of love and care. He's a lucky boy.

We saw a few bears and wolves too.

And, on our way out, a single camel with a bunch of livestock - horses, cows and sheep, I'm guessing? Perhaps it was the herbivore section.

'Twas a beautiful day. I'm grateful for places like this.

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