SPRINGFIELD, Colo. (KXRM) — You may have heard of the Wild Animal Sanctuary located in Keenesburg, which is home to hundreds of exotic animals including wolves, lions and bears. Nestled in the far southern reaches of Colorado is another location, the Wild Animal Refuge, which is closed to the public and contains nearly 10,000 acres of land in Springfield.
“We do have the Wild Animal Sanctuary that’s up in Keenesburg, Colorado,” said the Director of Animal Care at the Wild Animal Refuge, Taylor Logan. “That is open to the public, and we use that for a lot of our outreach. The reason we’re not open day-to-day down here [in Springfield] is the amount of money and infrastructure it would take, would not be made up by the sheer number of guests that would be able to make it out.”
After many twists and turns off back roads in Baca County, you can find the entrance gates to the Wild Animal Refuge. FOX31’s sister station, FOX21, was able to go onto the grounds and check out the exotic animals that call southern Colorado home.
“I think what a lot of people compare it to is Jurassic Park when you come because you’re just kind of out in the middle of nowhere and there’s all these dirt roads and then you roll up and there’s this massive gate,” Logan said. “You’re kind of just flowing, and then all of a sudden there’s big fences and then tigers and lions.”
The immense size of the property allows for the animals to have large habitats and roam freely.
“As an organization, we had already developed this uniqueness in having larger habitats for animals,” Logan said. “And in Keenesburg, we were able to do five-to-40-acre habitats. Down here we have anywhere from five acres to 240-acre habitats for the animals.”
The animals are able to have a one-of-a-kind safe haven in Springfield.
“So, none of these animals asked to be put into the situations they are, whether they come from a magic show or a roadside zoo or were born and raised in someone’s basement, they didn’t ask for that,” Logan said. “It’s what we do as an organization is really just try and get them as wild, as close to the wild as we can.”
Logan is one of 15 people on the property who ensures both the land and the animals are being taken care of.
“It’s very much a mix of zookeeping work and ranchhand work, where you’re kind of just doing a little bit of everything,” Logan said. “We do have a full time vet on staff and we have a part-time vet who’s down here a few times a month. So, veterinary care plays into it too, giving medications, opting for surgeries.”
Each of the animals has its own backstory, including a group of lions that were rescued from the war in Ukraine.
“The zoo in Odessa was getting bombs very close to it when the war very first started,” Logan said. “So, they were pulled out and actually brought to Romania. They had a very long journey and took over six months, but eventually they were brought down here and now they live on an 80-acre habitat here at the refuge.”
Another group of animals on the grounds was rescued from the “Tiger King” franchise.
“When Jeff lost the Wynnewood property to Carole Baskin and all the lawsuits he picked up, he moved all of his animals to Thackerville in that process,” Logan said. “He just left animals behind in Wynnewood. He didn’t want to deal with them… so we went in and got some animals during that from the Wynnewood location.”
The refuge opened due to the Wild Animal Sanctuary seeing a need for more land. Logan credited their ability to open up the refuge and provide large habitats for the animals to donations.
“Every animal we have, every fence post, you see all of that, it’s here because we have people who just trust in us and want to give us that money and help give these animals an amazing life and I can’t speak for how amazing that is,” said Logan.
If you are interested in supporting the refuge, you can find out details online.
The refuge gives these wild animals a second home and a sense of security in Springfield.
“We won’t ever take in an animal that we can’t guarantee a full life for,” Logan said. “So if we’re rescuing the animal, we’re saying ‘we’re going to have food for you, we’re going to have water for you, we’re going to have shelter, we’re going to have everything you possibly need to live out the rest of your life happy and comfortable.’”
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