Colorado’s 10,000-acre refuge for rescued carnivores (and then some)

Colorado’s 10,000-acre refuge for rescued carnivores (and then some)

Driving along the southeastern side of Colorado will reveal postcard small towns and an ocean of farmland. Suddenly, the path gives way to rolling hills, rocky outcroppings, and forests of juniper trees. Nestled in the heart of this oasis, “The Wild Animal Refuge” provides forever homes for rescued animals in a landscape they could never have dreamed possible.

The near-10,000 acres harbors animal survivors of great variety in species, background, and even country.

Before their 2022 rescue and subsequent arrival to the Refuge, 22 Asiatic Black Bears were victims of “Bear Bile Farming” for Eastern medicine. Though the process of fastening the animals within body-sized cages to collect gall bladder bile was made illegal in South Korea, the bears there were still far from safe.

Since they could still be harvested for parts at a certain age, time was of the essence to grant their reprieve. In the interim, the bears were housed inside a defunct South Korean bear-breeding farm, confined to elevated small cages with rebar on all sides – even under paw. Grass and open sky were not only unattainable but also unfathomable.

Thankfully, the Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA) was able to facilitate their rehoming to America. After a long trip by plane and then a convoy of transfer vehicles, the 22 arrived at The Wild Animal Refuge, beginning rehabilitation within acclimation apartments already several times bigger than the rebar cages they once languished.

Soon, the bears stepped into their massive, natural habitat for the first time. Over 230 acres of those aforementioned rolling hills and juniper trees. Early on, some bears would venture out three or four feet, spin, then repeat – an ingrained ghost of their pasts revealing their prior cages’ cramped conditions.

Though harrowing, their tale is but one of many at this southern Colorado facility.

Seven lions rescued from a war-torn Ukraine now comfortably reside in an 85-acre habitat all to themselves. Numerous big cats from the infamous “Tiger King” saga roam freely across hundreds of acres (instead of a life for human gain). Wolves from a now-closed California facility will never worry about tomorrow as they howl under a night sky illuminated by a sea of stars far from ambient light.

Donkeys, cheetahs, alpacas, grizzlies, horses, yaks – the rescue list continues to grow, all thanks to the support of many throughout the world. This organization is a 501c3 nonprofit, entirely relying on donations to ensure these animals’ lives will thrive for decades to come. Due to its remote nature, the Refuge is not open to the public but can be experienced by the Founders (those supporting its acreage and/or habitat creation) during an annual special event hosted in June and October. To become a Founder, please visit

This is one of four facilities operated by The Wild Animal Sanctuary, the world’s largest and oldest carnivore sanctuary which began rescuing in 1980. The Sanctuary in Keenesburg is open daily to the public for education:

This is a paid sponsored content article from The Wild Animal Sanctuary.