June Nature Walk_ A mile Into the wild at The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Ten years in the past in December we visited the Wild Animal Sanctuary close to Keenesburg. We promised ourselves to return in spring when the swimming pools could be full and the bears out of hibernation.

Lastly, we returned in early June. Bears fortunately splashed within the swimming pools and playfully tussled collectively. Lions and tigers stretched out snoozing within the solar, and a jaguar padded up his “ramp ladder.”

The Wild Animal Sanctuary, has rescued and rehabilitated these creatures and tons of extra. Some animals have been confiscated by authorities businesses from abusive or unlawful services. Others have been stored as unique pets till they turned an issue.

Pat Craig based the nonprofit sanctuary in 1980 at his household farm outdoors Boulder. He now directs a 1,214-acre enclave about 50 miles east of Boulder the place greater than 750 previously captive animals roam and romp in giant habitat areas. These areas are separated by a grid of roads to present protected entry to employees. The animal habitats are enriched with “jungle gyms” to climb on, waterfalls to sit down underneath, and “boomer balls,” to play with. Underground dens present locations to cover and to flee the new solar or winter storms.

Newly arrived animals are handled and stored in separate areas till they grow to be socialized and will be launched into giant species-specific habitats. Smaller enclosures home foxes, bobcats, lynx, and African servals.

The 1.4-mile, wheelchair-accessible, elevated walkway above the enclosures permits intimate views of the animals whereas defending them from stress. Since predation from above is unknown to them, they seldom lookup and are principally unaware of the onlookers. Strolling above tigers and lions is such a thrill, you don’t understand how a lot you’re studying about wild creatures and their plight on the planet. All alongside the walkway, which begins on the Training Heart, indicators inform tales concerning the animals, and audio items help you hear with out taking your eyes off the animals. Lined commentary decks comprise chairs and tables the place you possibly can get pleasure from a picnic whereas listening to wolves howl and lions roar. On reaching the north finish of the walkway, retrace your route. Though we went to the sanctuary to see rescued wild animals, we have been additionally enthralled by the prairie panorama, by a local bald eagle touchdown on a fence, and by white gulls swirling in opposition to black storm clouds. The walkway is uncovered to the weather, so it’s finest to go within the morning to beat the warmth and thunderstorms. Binoculars, a solar hat, and sunscreen are beneficial.

The sanctuary (303-536-0118) is open every day 9 a.m. to sundown, aside from main holidays. Charges are $50 for adults, $30 for kids, and $20 for seniors. Along with the Keenesburg facility, the Wild Animal Sanctuary operates sanctuaries in Springfield, and in Boyd, Texas, which might be normally not open to the general public, in addition to a wild horse refuge in Craig. These sanctuaries aren’t zoos however are locations for mistreated wild animals to reside out their lives in relative freedom. For some, it’s the first time they’ve ever felt grass or earth beneath their ft.

“Saving one animal could not change the World… however absolutely — for that one animal — the World will change eternally!” quote from the Wild Animal Sanctuary.

Instructions: Drive east on Colo. 52 to Hudson. Proceed 4 miles; flip south on Highway 53; comply with indicators for 3 miles to the sanctuary. A map, movies, and extra data can be found at WildAnimalSanctuary.org

Ruth Carol and Glenn Cushman are the authors of Boulder Climbing Trails, obtainable from Amazon.