The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado

The Wild Animal Sanctuary - BearThe Wild Animal Sanctuary provides rescued large carnivores with lifetime homes
In this post, ISM wants to recognize a nearby not-for-profit organization for its extraordinary accomplishments. The Wild Animal Sanctuary just 30 miles northeast of Denver, houses more than 350 exotic animals, most of whom are able to live out their lives in large acreage habitats. This mix of rescued wildlife has been fortunate to find homes in one of the largest and most successful of the dozen or so non-profit wildlife refuges around the country that cater primarily to large carnivores. It has been around since 1980 and the organization currently owns and manages 720 acres.

Origins and history
The main force behind this animal rescue sanctuary is executive director Pat Craig. Craig’s interest in wildlife rescue began just after high school with a behind the scenes visit to a South Carolina zoo where a friend of his worked. It was here that he learned about zoo surplus. Lack of space frequently left some animals stuck in small, bleak pens or cages removed from public view. Many of these animals were carnivores and labeled as ‘surplus’ because of the cost of keeping them. Craig became thoroughly hooked on the idea of providing a haven for wild animals.

Craig’s early large carnivore rescue work has largely been self-funded. He eventually earned a teaching degree that provided him with both an income and summers off. Throughout his adulthood though, he has kept this life focus on wildlife rescue. His passion has developed into a model of what is possible. Determination, imagination and a willingness to look at problems with fresh eyes have provided solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

What makes The Wild Animal Sanctuary unique?
Three qualities make The Wild Animal Sanctuary stand out from other wildlife rescue sanctuaries:

1. It has been in existence since 1980.
Many well-intended sanctuaries run out of money, particularly in lean economic times. The Wild Animal Sanctuary has defied the odds through a combination of shrewd marketing and determination.
2. It houses and keeps large carnivores.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary concentrates on providing captive exotic and endangered large carnivores, especially large wildcats, with life-long homes.
3. It has unique design features that contrast sharply with traditional zoos and sanctuaries.The habitat design includes large acreage habitats and almost 6,000 feet of walkway and observation decks that are 35 feet above the enclosures, the “Mile Into The Wild.”

Color photo of the Mile Into The Wild walkway at The Wild Animal SanctuaryPhoto by Donlammers

Mile Into The Wild
This elevated access allows visitors to observe the animals without stressing them. To any observer, the animals’ serenity and calm is eye opening. Every visitor comes away from the sanctuary knowing that these animals are completely comfortable and relaxed. This design innovation came from Craig’s observation that large carnivores simply do not seem to care much about what is above them in the sky. At the sanctuary, the animals are clearly indifferent and completely unstressed by people on the walkway and platforms above them. This is in contrast to most zoo environments where observers are eye level with the animals, a major factor leading to stress for captive carnivores.

The Captive Wildlife Crisis
In the mid-1900’s, many zoos began pursuing breeding programs as a visible demonstration of their competence at captive wildlife management. Others used breeding programs to provide baby animals as a reliable boost for attendance numbers. By the end of the 20th century, increasing populations and limited zoo resources lead to a significant overpopulation of large carnivores. This left zoos the choice of either euthanizing surplus animals or releasing them to the private sector marketplace.

How bad is it?
Estimates of the number of large carnivores kept privately in the United States range from 10,000 to as many as 30,000 animals. They are all part of a highly profitable illegal exotic animal trade. This black market business is second only to illegal drugs and weapons in terms of raw dollars. Illegal breeders supply captive large carnivores, and especially large wildcats, to the exotic animal trade. Here they are sold as pets for private owners, as ‘exhibits’ for roadside zoos and circuses, as marketing tools for advertisement, as commodities for fur farms and as potential trophies for game farms.

Have some extraordinary and eye-opening fun by visiting The Wild Animal Sanctuary. Whether living in Colorado or just visiting, an outing to this unique rescue habitat will be a memorable experience. Come watch the animals sleep, play and enjoy their homes. Visits help fund the operation and there is more that anyone can do:

  • Get educated and spread awareness on the captive wildlife crisis.
  • Support enforcement of laws protecting exotic wildlife.
  • Support The Wild Animal Sanctuary and other rescued exotic wildlife sanctuaries.

A note from ISM about what it means to be a good corporate citizen
Cause marketing is a relationship that bridges commerce and cause and benefits both. Social causes frequently collaborate with businesses to provide fundraising. The core idea here is that doing good is good for business. At ISM, everyone here is conscious of how wonderful it is to live where we do and we are committed to being a good corporate citizen in our communities.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

ISM has been fortunate to encounter two organizations so far that we work with. Healing Waters International is a customer that won our Facebook customer contest in the summer of 2014. After learning about their mission, ISM decided to collaborate in this non-profit’s clean water relief effort by providing components for their water purification systems.

Another non-profit that has attracted our attention is Salvageable Nuggets. They provide K-12 students with educational assets in the form of professional mentoring, resources and presentations at schools. They expose kids to prospective occupations relevant to their individual strengths and interests. ISM provides components for their hands-on science and technology presentations.

Have you participated in a cause marketing project recently? What made this different from some your usual efforts to engage customers? What did you learn and what will you do differently next time? Help us by telling others about what you learned.

Our next post returns to the theme of informational technical posts about miniature pneumatic and fluidic flow control components. Look for our upcoming blog article where review some of the design characteristics and function:

Plastic Spring Loaded Check Valves – More about Check Valves

Have questions about miniature pneumatic and fluidic flow control components? If so, send me an email – You can also ask questions using the comments section below.


Steven C. Williams headshot March, 2018.

About the author
Steven C. Williams, BS, is the technical writer and an inbound marketing specialist at Industrial Specialties Manufacturing (ISM), an ISO 9001-2015 supplier of miniature pneumatic, vacuum and fluid circuitry components to OEM's and distributors all over the world. He writes on technical topics related to miniature pneumatic and fluidic components as well as topics of general interest at ISM.       
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