Why You’ll Love Colorado’s Wild Animal Sanctuary

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado is a safe haven for rescued wildlife, including bears, lions, mountain lions and more. Visitors can walk on the world’s longest footbridge, admire large cats and bears splashing around a pool, and donate to support the sanctuary's rehabilitation efforts.

By: The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Updated: February 16, 2024

With over 9,000 acres of land just an hour outside of Denver, The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg is an attraction travelers can’t miss. It’s not only a place to spot big cats but is also thoroughly invested in the captive-wild-animal crisis and helps wildlife around the world, operating with a mission of saving animals from less-than-ideal situations and rehabilitating them.

Visit the sanctuary, typically a four- to six-hour tour, and walk the 1.5-mile walkway, stop for lunch at the visitor's center and learn about the wonderful creatures that call these plains home. Here’s a closer look at why you and your family should add The Wild Animal Sanctuary to your northeast Colorado itinerary.

1. Walk Among the Largest Carnivore Sanctuary

Nearly 650 critters roam large-acreage, natural habitats and make Colorado’s Wild Animal Sanctuary a must-see for wildlife lovers. The sanctuary is the oldest in the country, with over 40 years of experience. And while the center is open year-round, there are certain times of the day that are better to see these creatures in action. In the summer it’s best to arrive in the late afternoon, as the animals nap during the hottest parts of the day. Come winter, you’re more likely to see carnivores up and about throughout the day. 

2. See Wildlife Like Never Before

Catch a tiger splashing in a pool, watch a lion play on a “jungle gym” or a bear playing with a “boomer ball.” The Wild Animal Sanctuary residents come from all different backgrounds, including coyotes, jaguars, mountain lions, leopards, alpacas and more. Over the course of the sanctuary’s history, they’ve rescued over 1,000 animals — all from illegal situations or neglect. There’s even a roundhouse to receive new tigers, designed to allow them to recuperate and adjust.  

3. Stroll a "Mile Into The Wild"

The sanctuary's Guinness World Record-winning 1.5-long elevated footbridge, a "Mile Into The Wild," sits high above the habitats and provides a fantastic view for visitors, while ensuring the animals are comfortable. Be sure to visit the walkway for Wild Nights, an opportunity to observe how the creatures change their sleeping habits in the cool summer dusk. Wolves begin howling, lions roar and there are beautiful sunset views. You can even bring a picnic dinner! 

4. Dine & Shop at the Welcome Center

While you're making a day of it, you may need to pick up a few provisions. The sanctuary welcome center, a 48,000-square-foot complex housed inside a giant biodome, is your first stop at the sanctuary. The center is designed as a small-town main street, complete with trees, grass and a brook running down the middle. Stop for a bite at Lion’s Den Café, which serves oven-fired pizza, burgers and pasta. There are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available as well. After lunch, grab a sweet treat at the Ice Cream Shop; we recommend going for the English Toffee or Caramel Oreo. After walking the refuge, stop in the gift shop for the perfect souvenirs to commemorate your time at the sanctuary. 

5. Educate Yourself & Donate to the Sanctuary

One of the best ways to support the sanctuary is through Summer Safari Dinners, quarterly fundraising events that include a meal and stimulating conversations with the staff, caretakers and volunteers. Plus, the education center features numerous videos and programs to continue your education. You can even adopt an animal by paying a fee that goes to giving them the best care, food and attention. Find other ways to support the Wild Animal Sanctuary.

6. Learn About the Wild Animal Refuge

Stretching nearly 15 square miles and housing dozens of rescued animals, the Wild Animal Refuge in Springfield, Colorado is the 9,004-mile expansion of the Keenesburg sanctuary acquired to meet the growing demand to shelter rescued wildlife. Though not open to the public, these remote lands feature amazing natural landscapes with rocks, hills, canyons and water that serve as a true sanctuary. To help with this much-needed extension of the center’s rescue efforts, purchase acreage and donate it back. 

Want More? 

Get a virtual tour of the sanctuary

Discover more ways to enjoy your walk on the wild side

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