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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Education, Environment, Protection of Endangered Species, Wildlife Sanctuaries

Mission: The mission of The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) is to rescue and provide life-long homes for captive great cats, bears, wolves and other large carnivores, which have been abused, abandoned, exploited and illegally kept and to educate the public about causes and solutions to the dramatic plight of thousands of captive wildlife in the United States.

Results: The Wild Animal Sanctuary has rescued hundreds and hundreds of large carnivores over the past 38 years from illegal and/or abusive situations - and provides them with large free-roaming natural habitats to live in. The Sanctuary currently operates a 9,793-acre refuge for rescued animals, and provides direct education to over 180,000 people per year concerning issues relating to the Captive Wildlife Crisis in America.

Target demographics: People who are passionate about helping animals - especially Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other majestic Creatures who are victims of the Captive Wildlife Crisis in America today.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1-200

Geographic areas served: US - Canada - Mexico - South America - Spain

Programs: Our Current Programs Our facilities are some of the most contemporary in the nation. We build species-specific habitats ranging from 5-acres to 25-acres, and have dozens of these natural habitats spread throughout our 9,793-acre facilities. Newly rescued animals dwell in large enclosures during their rehabilitation process in order to build groups who will ultimately have a new habitat built for them. These roomy, comfortable environments offer our rescued animals’ unprecedented freedom and more natural living spaces. All habitats have underground dens that supply temperature controlled housing; or hibernation dens; year round. TWAS also has “The Mile Into The Wild Walkway” - a unique system of elevated cat-walks and observation platforms that allow visitors to view our rescued animals and enjoy their habitats, while reducing the animals’ exposure to humans.

Community Stories

713 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I have been financial sponsors for many years and have the honor of being volunteers now. It's wonderful and amazing how well these animals are taken care of. The visitors that I have spoken with always have praising things to say about the sanctuary.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Wild Animal Sanctuary rescues large animals from abusive situations. Bears, lions, mountain lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, wolves, fox, emus, ostrich, even horses are now living in ease after tragic beginnings. Large enclosures allow them to stretch their legs whenever they want. Although it would be better to live in the wild, many of these animals were stripped of their natural defenses during early captivity. The Sanctuary gives the bears and tigers water to play in and the cats structures to climb. Approximately 500 animals call the Sanctuary home. You can see them from an elevated walkway that runs about 1 1/2 miles.

Amanda Turner H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Beautiful sanctuary located right in our own backyard. (Denver) I was lucky enough to share the experience with my two sisters visiting from two different states and it was a day we will cherish together always. Thank you for what you do

2 Lacey Y.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been blessed to be able to visit the sanctuary a few times and am always left with pure amazement of the love and compassion these people put into creating a wild, Free and safe place for these beautiful animals. Truly an inspiring place

Denine M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Greatest Sanctuary in the World!! The animals that they rescue have the best care, love and habitat available. They truly do always put the animals first!!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been honored to be able to support TWAS for over 10 years. The incredible work that starts when a request for a rescue is made is unbelievable. When you watch a video of a rescue and see the connection the rescuers have with the animal is beautiful. The love and care continues through traveling to the sanctuary and through out the lives of every animal. The most wonderful thing a person can do if at all possible is go see for yourself and I promise you too will want to do more. God bless TWAS and thank you Pat Craig for starting this incredible Sanctuary.

1 Sandi O.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is such an amazing non-profit to visit. I cannot believe the sad stories of their animals & how they have suffered too much. The Wild Animal Sanctuary goes to such effort to rescue, build new habitats & care for these unfortunate animals. I have friends coming to Denver & this is where I plan to take them. What this organization has done is noteworthy.

1 SoCal_Mel

Donor

Rating: 5

I travel from California to Colorado with visiting TWAS as my #1 goal. If you read about the history of the abused animals that live there, you can’t help but be amazed at their lives now.....so calm, well-fed and taken care of. Pat Craig’s life IS The Wild Animal Sanctuary and he’s passed that passion on to his family, staff and all the volunteers. That same passion is contagious.....I can’t be there to volunteer, but I do send a little something every month and every now and then pick up something on their wishlist along with shopping through smile.amazon, so Amazon will send a donation on my behalf.....it makes me feel good to know I’m helping in some small way to protect those precious animals.

Previous Stories
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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been to The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) countless times. They have rescued animals, mainly large carnivores, from all over the world....and continue to do so. The stories of these abused and neglected rescues is on the TWAS website. Please read about the amazing job they're doing. The Sanctuary has over 700 acres, so the animals are allowed to live in as nearly as normal environment as possible. There is an elevated walkway so you can see these beautiful animals without disturbing them. I encourage anyone interested in saving wild animals to donate to the cause...a little or a lot, it's all goes to good use.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been here 3 times during visits to our daughter and son-in-law. I am always amazed and grateful for everything they do for the animals. I will visit again. This is a unique concept that considers the animals first, when it comes to visitors observing them from above. Thank you to all who make the animals comfortable and safe.

1 Heather Harris D.

Donor

Rating: 5

I'm not sure I have the words to explain how much I love TWAS. It is my sanctuary, my therapy, my favorite place on the planet for the past 20 years. My family and I spend as much time there as possible. Whatever you do put a visit to the sanctuary on the "to do" list.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a major animal lover who is in the early stages of establishing a sanctuary for homeless dogs, and I was studying sanctuaries a handful of years ago to get ideas when I came across The Wild Animal Sanctuary and I was amazed at the quality of life these animals receive. I absolutely love their large-acreage habitat model and watching videos of how wide open spaces, amazing enrichment, and the company of others of their own kind heals these animals physically, mentally and emotionally. This place is heaven on earth for innocent animals who have been rescued from terrible situations. The Wild Animal Sanctuary does a great job educating the public about the captive wildlife crisis and the magnitude and severity of the problem. They also give the animals world class veterinary care and will do anything and everything in their power to give every animal they take in the very best life possible. I wrote the founder, Pat Craig, a letter and he was kind enough to take the time to write back to me and wish me the best in my rescue work. It made my day! I cannot say enough great things about this sanctuary. They bring out the best in humanity.

Donor

Rating: 5

Visiting The Wild Animal Sanctuary was on my bucket list and last year I had the chance to go. It did not disappoint. The care the volunteers take of the animals was absolutely amazing. Their habitats are top notch. It was the best experience of my life to see those animals enjoying life after the rough start they had. I will donate to The Wild Animal Sanctuary for the rest of my life because I am certain my money is going directly to benefit the lives of the rescued animals.

Colin Laraine B.

Donor

Rating: 5

A guest of ours at our Pet friendly Bed and Breakfast who has become a wonderful friend, brought TWAS to my attention. She was receiving newsletters from the Sanctuary, so I checked it out and being so impressed with the work being done, decided to become a sponsor. Having two Grandchildren and myself we Adopted Cans and Dian two young male cubs and a beautiful wolf named Cheyenne. In 2014 with our Granddaughter whilst visiting Daughter in Vegas we made the journey to see first hand. After receiving newsletters and adoption updates nothing prepared me for the amazing place TWAS is.
To see the lives these rescued animals now live is soul storing, totally overwhelmed with gratitude to Pat Greig and his dedicated band of animal carers. God bless each and every one of you. Thankyou.

Donor

Rating: 5

We found TWAS, I think in 2004. It was an itty bitty ad in the newspaper. Thought it would be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon so off we went. At that time you took a dirt road to get there, so we weren’t sure what we would find. We checked in and were given a notebook with history off the animals. Remember it was much smaller then, I think about 70 animals in total. It was beautiful and relaxing. You could just sit and watch and listen to these glorious big cats. Right after we were there they were on the news saying they were going to have to close because lack of funds. One way you can donate is to adopt an animal and that’s what we did. Our first were Halloween a tiger and Lightening a leopard. They have since died but we have been able to continue helping by getting new ones. We get out there about twice a year and have introduced many people to this Sanctuary where the animals are as free and happy to roam in their large enclosures.

Donor

Rating: 5

There is something so special bout TWAS. What they do for these beautiful animals is wonderful. It only took one visit for me to understand what amazing work everyone does. My husband and I both adopted an animal I will continue to support TWAS as long as I can. If I still lived in Colorado I would be a volunteer. Thank you Pat and crew for the TWAS we need more people like you. (Mary B. In Minnesota)

Mary S.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a supporter and former volunteer of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, I can firmly state that this is the BEST nonprofit I have ever had the fortune to discover.

Volunteer options are realistic and doable and the work is hard - sometimes tedious, boring and straight-up disgusting - but the staff does a great job of making sure volunteers know WHY they are doing what they're doing and how it benefits the organization and the animals. Work is varied enough that in between the manual labor there are opportunities to interact with the animals in a safe and educational manner, whether it is accompanying staff to feed, deliver medication, or work on habitats to improve enrichment and stimulation for the animals.

As a visiting member of the general public, TWAS offers an absolutely one-of-a-kind experience in which guests are able to see rescued animals, learn who the animals are (where they came from and how they wound up at TWAS) and learn about what is referred to as the "captive wildlife crisis." One of TWAS's main goals is to educate the public about the dangers and immorality of owning exotic species as "pets," along with providing information about the plight of captive traveling animals in circuses, side-shows, and photo-with-wildlife scams. While traditional zoos also offer educational opportunities, they tend to focus on the idealized version of a species' life in the wild. At TWAS, however, the educational focus (while providing this same basic biogeographical information) is shifted towards the specific ways in which certain species are exploited and abused for the sake of "entertainment." While you might learn where tigers cubs live in the world at a zoo, at TWAS, you will learn that "selfie-with-tiger-cub" opportunities are a scam to generate profit at the expense of the individual animal and entire species' well-being. Thus education at TWAS goes far beyond the typical zoo placards and provides guests with relevant and crucial information regarding the various ways in which wild animals are exploited and how to prevent complicity in these schemes in addition to ways in which they can take action to save wild species and advocate for their welfare.

The last aspect of TWAS I must mention is the physical structure and pure awesomeness of the facility. Over 720 acres in the eastern plains have been slightly modified (added streams and ponds, some vegetation, underground dens built, etc.) and there is a 40ft elevated walkway that traverses a mile and a half of these habitats. This provides guests an utterly unique experience of walking on a footbridge above the animals in their habitats below. Based on evolutionary biology of carnivores (who are highly territorial on the ground but have never had any airborne/flying predators or prey and thus are oblivious to the sky and space above them) the elevated footbridge is a groundbreaking way to provide guests with an incredible view of the animals in as close a proxy as possible to their natural habitat. Each habitat is large (most are at least twenty acres) providing the animals with ample "territory" to roam and patrol. The elevation of the walkway means that, unlike at a zoo where carnivores are confronted with people invading their territory and staring at them through a glass wall (which results in unnatural pacing along the wall, indicating unease and stress on behalf of the animal) the animal is oblivious to and thus totally unbothered by the human observers above them. The end result is that guests are able to observe the animal acting as close to "natural" as possible and the animals are not stressed by invaders encroaching on their territory.

TWAS is an absolutely amazing place for the reasons above and many more. Words cannot describe the magic and serenity that are palpable as soon as you step foot on the walkway. The peace and gratefulness of the animals can be felt by all who work and visit them. Staff, volunteers, and visitors of all ages will leave feeling more hopeful about the world and the future of its imperiled wild species. And there is no other sight in the world as breathtaking to behold as the sun setting behind the Rocky Mountains in the distance behind the herds of lions roaring to each other across their adoptive Colorado plains homes.

(All photos - TWAS)

1 mshabbott3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wild Animal Sanctuary does everything possible to rescue and provide the best possible environment for the animals. Donations go directly to benefit the animals and communication from W.A.S. is excellent. They deserve more than 5 stars.

Previous Stories

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been following the wild animal sanctuary for some time and donate whenever I can.
This sanctuary cares for the animals and has their best interest at heart.
I commend these people.

Jenny Z.

Donor

Rating: 5

This place is amazing to see all the wild animals not caged. Staff are very helpful and knowledgeable.

Denise N.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been involved in animal rescue, animal rights, etc most of my adult life. I am 53. I do not believe there is a better organization than TWAS. It has got to be the most effectively run group I have ever seen!! They truly believe and implement EVERY word of their mission statement!! You can also see where every donated dollar is spent!! They are nothing short of amazing and the world and animals are truly blessed having them here!! I so wish I lived in Colorado so I could volunteer there!! What an honor it would be!!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My husband and I heard about TWAS about 6 years ago and thought it would be fun to check it out. We were blown away by all the hard working staff and care of the animals. The rescue stories are heartbreaking. I’m so glad the animals will live out the rest of their days with the best care. This is an organization that should always be supported. We love TWAS as the animals come first above all else.