Lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and more roam freely at this Keenesburg rescue.

Sing it with me: "Oh give me a home, where the lion roam, and the bear and the leopard play." Believe it or not, on the rural, rolling grasslands located 30 miles north of Denver these animals, as well as other large carnivores, actually do all those things thanks to a one-of-a-kind animal sanctuary.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) in Keenesburg offers 738 acres of refuge for large carnivores that were abused, abandoned, illegally kept, or were victims of other horrible conditions. 

"A shocking statistic about America’s Captive Wildlife Crisis; the illicit exotic animal trade is the third-largest source of illegal profits in the world today, just after illegal drugs and weapons! In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 30,000 captive large carnivores living outside the zoo system. There are 4,000 Tigers living as 'pets' in private homes in just the state of Texas – which is more Tigers than exist in the wild throughout the world," shares the sanctuary

The sanctuary began in the Boulder area in 1980, but due to development, moved out to the plains and has been able to create large-acreage habitats for rescued animals to live as comfortably and naturally as possible with others of their kind. 

the wild animal sanctuary

Courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary (Facebook)

Currently, the site hosts around 500 large carnivores and serves as an educational facility that you can visit any day you choose. As the need for rescue operations is ever-growing, the sanctuary recently acquired a 9,684-acre parcel of land in southeast Colorado to expand its operations, which at this time is not open to the public. 

Visit the Wild Animal Sanctuary and Traverse the Elevated Walkway

The experience at the sanctuary is not to be missed. Unlike a zoo, the animals live in large, open habitats where they can freely come and go, as they please. You'll get to see these beautiful beasts in a more natural setting, and they are often in the same areas together. A 1.5-mile elevated walkway will take you above several habitats where you can see these amazing animals doing their thing.

What to expect at The Wildlife Animal Sanctuary. Courtesy of TWAS. 

"The vast majority of visitors to The Wild Animal Sanctuary come to experience an incredibly serene setting where prides of African lions roam freely and tigers, wolves, bears, and other large carnivores also live and coexist peacefully," says the sanctuary.

In addition, there are more typical enclosures for animals that are in transition to the facility, a Tiger Roundhouse, and an enclosed Education Center that will help you learn more about captive animals, the rescue, and how you can help. 

tiger at twas

Courtesy of TWAS

A few tips for visiting the sanctuary:

  • Plan on 3 to 6 hours to get through the entire sanctuary, so try to arrive no later than 4 hours prior to closing times. 
  • Entry is cut off 2 hours prior to closing. All visitors must exit the park immediately on closing. 
  • When the weather is hot, it's best not to come during mid-day, as the animals are all seeking shade as much as you are. If you want a unique experience at the height of summer, check out the Wild Nights program for an experience that is cool in all ways! 
  • Call before coming out on days with inclement weather. 
  • Dogs and other animals are not allowed, including service dogs, due to wild animal behavior. 
  • You are welcome to bring your own picnic food, or there is a cafe on site. 

What: The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Where: 2999 County Road 53, Keenesburg, CO  
Open Hours: every day, 9 a.m. to sunset (closed on some holidays and hours are subject to weather conditions)
More Information

Have you visited the sanctuary? Do you have any recommendations for other visitors? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.