We would like to thank you for your kind and generous support, as well as your patience in waiting for another update on the Refuge. Throughout 2019, we worked day-in and day-out on new habitats at the Refuge, and continued to add more infrastructure for our operations crews that work there.
Although we wanted to provide more timely updates for you, there were long periods of time where we were spending months building the endless miles of fencing that was needed to create incredibly large habitats. Our goal was to complete over 300 acres of natural habitats for bears - which was a daunting task to say the least.
With the help of dedicated staff, and additional help from a non-profit organization called “Rescue Rebuild”, we were able to get over 12 miles of specialized fencing installed. Once the habitat fencing was in place, we were able to get a more precise measurement of the two habitats that were created.
The Grizzly Bear Habitat ended up encompassing 103 acres, and the Black Bear Habitat came in at 243 acres. These incredibly natural spaces are completely forested in pine trees and feature hills, bluffs and other enormous rock formations, as well as beautiful canyons and meadows where the bears can roam, play and relax.
Hundreds of natural caves, rock outcroppings and other shelters exist where the bears can live, relax and make dens, and we also added dozens of man-made dens to augment the choices they have in overall amenities. These are truly amazing spaces that are custom made for bears, and are designed to leverage the natural landscape that could have been their native home if they had never been removed from the wild.
Now that we have 346 acres of habitat completed for bears, we took the opportunity to release eight rescued Grizzly Bears into their 103-acre habitat. Six of these Grizzly Bears were rescued from a facility in California named the Wildlife Waystation, where they lived for decades in tiny concrete and steel cages. Two other Grizzly Bears were rescued from a failed facility in Texas, where they too suffered for years in similar enclosures.
These eight Grizzly Bears now roam freely within their amazingly natural habitat and spend each day exploring the habitat’s seemingly unending expanse. Of course, for months after each set of Bears were rescued, they spent time in temporary holding enclosures so they would not be overwhelmed by the sudden move – let alone the change in surroundings.
Each set of Bears needed time to adjust to their new home and were allowed all the time they needed to become comfortable with residing at the Refuge. Once they were comfortable with the sights, sounds, feeding schedule and caretaking staff, we were confident they could begin exploring their new home in full.
As usual with captive raised Bears, they were cautious with their new found freedom and tended to come and go from their smaller enclosures, making sure they weren’t taking too large of a risk. Yet, over the first few days, they all ventured into the habitat with varying degrees of confidence.
Two of the Grizzly Bears named “Miss Montana” and “Miss America” that were known to be exceedingly confident, ventured to the far side of the habitat and back almost immediately. This was no easy feat, given the habitat is over ¼ mile wide and more than ¾ of a mile in length.
Needless to say, none of the Grizzly Bears were in top physical shape after having spent their entire lives to-date living in 400 sq. ft. enclosures. So it wasn’t long before a number of them were seen laying in the shade under large Juniper trees where they could take in the beautiful landscape while giving their tootsies a rest.
Yet, over the next few days, we could see their stamina increasing and their feet becoming more resilient to the sudden increase in mileage. It is all part of what any of the animals we rescue go through, as every one of them has come from places where they were forced to live in very small cages with unnatural substrate.
With its location in southeastern Colorado, the Refuge is incredibly peaceful and serene. There are no cars, trucks, trains or planes to create unnatural sounds, so other than the occasional “caw” heard from Crows that lovingly call these canyon lands home, there is simply no noise pollution.
We can testify to the amazing silence that exists, as we have spent hours standing atop one of the bluffs listening to the gentle breeze whispering through the pines as we waited to hear the slightest crack of a twig that might reveal one of the Grizzly Bears walking through the woods.
Finding them in such an expansive wilderness would normally be quite the challenge, but given their lives have always revolved around human care, they still choose to come to their caretakers whenever they hear the familiar sound of a service vehicle. Of course, our small drones with infrared technology are always great when the times comes to observe all of the Bears during the day or night, especially since they can spot them much faster than the naked eye.
We look forward to seeing how these Grizzly Bears, and the Black Bears that are soon to be released, will continue to adapt to such a natural lifestyle. Other than our providing them with plenty of food, water and medical services, they can now have an opportunity to become the Bears they were originally born to be.
Both The Wild Animal Refuge and The Wild Animal Sanctuary stand as prime examples of what captive wildlife not only deserve, but should have no matter what entity has them or where they are kept. There is a new paradigm in captive wildlife care, and thankfully, you chose to be part of it.
Thanks to your love for animals and clear understanding of what we are creating at the Refuge, there is no doubt the world will see how all captive wildlife can and should be treated. We are incredibly grateful for your help in purchasing this amazing land and helping us develop it for the animals’ benefit.
Together, we are changing lives daily, and creating a world where suffering and abuse can be extinguished through compassion and a true opportunity for freedom. The Lions, Tigers, Bears and other animals that live at both facilities are living proof there is a better life waiting for all.
Please follow the link that goes to our special page for the upcoming Founder’s Day Event (in June) that will be held at the Refuge this year. We’ve expanded the opportunity to include two weekdays, along with a Saturday and Sunday, so that every Founder has an opportunity to see this amazing place in person.
We have raised enough funds to pay for ¾ of the Refuge, and appreciate everything you all have done to accomplish amazing feat. However, we need to continue to push to the finish line and raise the remaining funds, so we can then focus entirely on creating more habitats like these.
Each year that we have to commit major funds toward paying for the land, we are conversely restricted in what we can do toward building these wonderful spaces. This is why we all need to continue sharing the successes we have accomplished to-date, so that others will learn what we are doing and hopefully join us in completing the purchase.
There are other links included that enable additional donations toward the land, as well as a general donation link for those that wish to help with purchasing more fencing and other much needed building supplies. Additionally, there is a link to the Sanctuary’s Amazon.com wish list for those who would like to help buy purchasing some of these supplies directly.
We do want to thank many of the individuals and companies that have already contributed toward this need, as they have helped with everything from donations of massive quantities of sacked concrete and concrete dens… to other substantial purchases that include fencing and steel products. Our accomplishments to date would not have been possible without their help, so we remain forever grateful!
With the expanded Founder’s Day Event encompassing four days instead of two, our hope is to spread attendance across a wider envelope so that everyone has an unforgettable experience. Certain aspects of how the event will be carried out have changed this year, so we are listing the general details that, of course, will be repeated each of the four days.
In general, Founders should only plan to attend one of the four days offered, and reservations are absolutely required. Each Founder is allowed to bring one guest, as it is important for us to restrict the number of people attending for numerous important reasons.
If you attended last year’s event, we will be addressing some of the minor issues that came up, so your overall experience this year will be even better. If this will be your first time attending the Founder’s Day Event, please be sure to pay close attention to the FAQ section and warnings about bad weather and associated road hazards.
We want to thank you again for being a Founder and caring enough to help create this wonderful new home for rescued animals. We have a very busy year ahead of us, so we plan to send more Founder updates as often as possible. Thank you so very much!!!
FOUNDERS DAY EVENT
Founders should only plan to attend one of the four days
Thursday June 11th, Friday June 12th, Saturday June 13th and Sunday June 14th
Gates will open at 9:00 AM and close at 3:00 PM
Food and Drinks will be available – but no official lunch presentation will be made this year
Staff and Volunteers will be on site to answer questions and speak with Founders
Links to PDF maps for directions to the Refuge are available using the link below - maps of the Refuge itself will be given to Founders when they arrive for the event as well
Bathroom facilities (porta-potties) will be available at various locations throughout the Refuge
No pets will be allowed on the property or in your vehicle
The weather leading up to this event, as well as on each day of the event, will play a major role in whether the roads leading to the Refuge are safe and passable – as well as whether the roads within the Refuge are similarly affected. Everyone attending the event must check the Refuge’s web site one or two days prior to the event - as well as the morning before you head directly to the Refuge – since constant road condition updates and possible cancellations will be posted there. Wet weather can easily make the roads impassable and dangerous, and there would be little-to-no chance you could receive emergency help if anything were to go wrong.
Always travel with emergency food, water and medical provisions
What is Founder's Day?
Each summer, The Wild Animal Sanctuary hosts a special event for Founders where they can come see the amazing Refuge they have helped create.
How much does it cost to attend Founder’s Day?
This event is free, but is only open to Founders. Founders are those whom have donated toward one or more acres of land to complete the Refuge land purchase.
Where is Founder’s Day held?
Founder’s Day is located at The Wild Animal Refuge location in Colorado. The Refuge is approximately 190 miles southeast of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, situated partway between the towns of La Junta and Springfield, Colorado.
The Wild Animal Refuge
00431 County Rd Pp 5/10
Springfield, CO 81073, USA
It is strongly recommended when traveling to the Refuge to have a physical map and/or directions present. GPS is not reliable as there is no cell service near the Refuge. There will be road signs to help attendees navigate from select main towns to the Refuge. Founders can obtain directions using the link below.
We also recommend filling up on gas in La Junta, Springfield, or Las Animas, CO before completing your drive to the Refuge, as most commutes are four or more hours each way (from the Denver area).
When is Founder’s Day this year?
Founders can choose one of four days to visit The Wild Animal Refuge this year:
Thursday, June 11th
Friday, June 12th
Saturday, June 13th
Sunday, June 14th
Will there be another Founder’s event this year?
No. This will be the only Founders event in 2020.
Is there limited space for Founder’s Day?
Yes. This year we have expanded this event across four days to ensure all Founders can attend, however, each day has a max capacity. The Sanctuary staff will send out an email update if a date is reaching/has reached capacity, but be sure to sign up for your preferred date as soon as possible!
Can I bring guests to Founder’s Day?
Up to 1 guest is allowed per Founder, if you feel you cannot make the trip alone. This includes any family member, but we advise not bringing young children due to the lack of cell service on the trip to contact emergency services, if they are needed.
How do I sign up for Founder’s Day?
Founders can register for one of the four days using the link below:
Is an RVSP required in order to attend Founder’s Day?
Yes. An RSVP is required in order to obtain ticket(s) and attend this special event. Founders with a guest should select two tickets when registering for this event. Ticket(s) must be present when arriving for Founder Days, via print-out or screen-shot.
When do I have to RVSP by in order to attend Founder’s Day?
All Founders must register no later than May 15th, 2020, pending ticket availability.
What if I accidentally registered for the wrong day?
If you accidentally registered for the wrong day, please contact our Development staff.
What time does Founder’s Day start?
Founders can arrive any time beginning at 9:00 AM MST
What time does Founder Days end?
Founders should depart by 3:00 PM MST.
What is this year’s agenda for Founder’s Day?
Founders can explore the beautiful property by self-guided tours between 9:00AM–3:00PM MST. No hiking or off-roading is allowed, as designated paths around the Refuge and Operations Complex must be used. Sanctuary staff will be positioned at various points along the designated paths to assist with any questions. Founders must also remain in their vehicles at all times except at the Operations Complex, or if otherwise permitted by Staff.
Free light food options will be provided at the Operations Complex anytime between 10:00AM– 2:00PM MST, as well as the opportunity to chat with Sanctuary staff. Food will be inclusive of vegetarian and vegan options.
May I bring in food?
Light food options will be provided by The Wild Animal Sanctuary at no cost, but we advise to bring snacks and drinks for the trip. We encourage you bring your own food under special circumstances such as dietary restrictions and/or due to certain underlying conditions such as diabetes. Please contact our Development staff if you have questions.
Are pets allowed?
No pets are allowed, no exceptions. Our apologies, this does include service animals as well. There is a pet friendly hotel located in Springfield, CO, “J’s Motel”, if you have no other arrangements for your furry friend(s).
Are bathrooms available?
Porta-potties will be available at various locations throughout the Refuge.
Where do I park?
All Founders will be greeted by a member of the Sanctuary staff when arriving. Founders will be guided to the Operations Complex for all parking. Parking is not allowed outside of the Operations Complex.
Is alternative transportation available for Founder’s Day?
Transportation is available for Founders with special needs only. You must include this request in the respective field when registering for this event and/or contact our Development staff.
What lodging is available for Founder’s Day?
A variety of lodging options close to the Refuge are available (within an hour or so of). Founders can use the link below to find lodging options in Springfield, La Junta, and Las Animas, CO. We do not guarantee room availability, as local hotels will fill up fast.
Can Founder’s Day be cancelled due to weather?
Yes. Weather can create impossible driving conditions at the Refuge. In the case of inclement weather, this event or specific day(s) may be cancelled without a rescheduled ‘rain date’. Any cancellations or reschedule notices will be communicated by the Sanctuary staff via email. Please make sure to check your inbox (and junk mail folder) before making the trip in bad weather.
Can I still become a Founder and attend this event?
There is still time to become a Founder! Use the link below to purchase an acre or more of land and register no later than May 15th, 2020 in order to attend this year’s Founder’s Day.
Who do I contact for additional questions?
Time To Layout Habitats
Now that the Roads, Power and Carnivore Nutrition Center are complete and in place, it was time to start building the habitats for our animals to live in.
Planning their layout was the first step toward construction, and helped define the overall workflow for this coming summer.
Grading Pathways for Fencing
The second step was to grade clear pathways for our special fencing.
Clean paths that surround unique features help create the outline of each habitat.
Each habitat includes high ridges and hill tops as well as canyon bottoms where the habitat fencing travels as it surrounds each feature.
From the air this 35 acre habitat looks relatively small. However, it is 10 acres larger than the biggest habitat we have in Keenesburg.
The next three habitats being built will range between 45 to 310 acres in size.
Although they look like bushes, those are actually One Seed Juniper Trees that average 14' to 16' in height.
Thousands of Fence Poles
With miles and miles of habitat fencing being installed, we are thankful that all of our poles are donated by Excel Energy. The only snag is, we have to cut them at our Keenesburg site and then haul them to the Refuge on a weekly basis.
Along with building habitats, we also need to install multiple water supply systems - both for the animals and the workers/staff who are busy building everything.
Although the winter snow storms have slowed construction, we are reaching a point where those will lessen and allow us to get much more done on a daily basis.
Construction on the habitats will continue all summer, but we hope to have the first animals arriving (to live in the 35 acre habitat) by sometime in May or June.