Animal related

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

  • Keenesburg, CO

Mission Statement

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.

Main Programs

  1. Animal Rescue Program
  2. AnimalCare Program
  3. Public Education Program
Service Areas



Rescuing animals throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America.


Educational efforts reaching most international communities.

ruling year


Executive Director


Patrick L Craig



wild animal sanctuary, captive wildlife, wildlife refuge, wildlife education, rocky mountain wildlife conservation center, environment, big cat rescue

Notes from the Nonprofit

In Summary, The Wild Animal Sanctuary was created 35 years ago when the issue of Captive Wildlife being dumped into the private sector by zoos across our nation began. Responding to the subsequent need to rescue an ever-growing number of Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large exotic and dangerous animals being bred and sold as pets to private individuals, the Sanctuary has continued to pioneer and set the tone for what animal sanctuaries look like and operate as in the United States today.

By creating a highly-successful rehabilitation process, as well as providing large acreage natural habitats for all of our rescued animals to live in, and then going the extra mile to protect the sovereignty and freedom our animals have through the utilization of elevated walkways and decks - The Wild Animal Sanctuary has set the standard for all zoos, sanctuaries and other captive wildlife facilities to aspire to.

By not settling for the standard "old world" caging and the all-to-common practice of warehousing rescued animals in small cramped facilities, The Wild Animal Sanctuary continues to demonstrate its commitment to providing world-class care and amenities to all rescued animals, and to never waver from its duty to protect their well being.

Leading others by setting the example is what we do, and we are more than willing to share our knowledge and experience with other organizations so they may provide their animals with the same level of care, freedom and comfort that we are able to give to our animals.

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Physical Address

1946 County Road 53

Keenesburg, CO 80643


Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Wildlife Sanctuary/Refuge (D34)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

The Wild Animal Sanctuary has rescued hundreds of large captive carnivores in its 30 year history, and currently houses over 400 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other rescued animals at its 720 acre refuge.  The Sanctuary is one of the only facilities in the country that offers large acreage natural habitats for its rescued animals to live in, as well as features a mile-long elevated walkway that distinctly protects rescued animals from any pressure that would normally be associated with public education.

From January 2010 through October 2015, the Sanctuary carried-out over 57 rescue missions where animals were suffering and in dire need of help. During that time frame, over 360 animals were rescued and brought to the Sanctuary for rehabilitation and release into large acreage natural habitats.

Our non-profit organization worked cooperatively with a wide variety of other national and international animal welfare organizations including HSUS, PETA, IFAW, ADI and many others to join forces in saving large carnivores from deplorable conditions.

Incredibly complex rescue missions throughout the United States have remained consistent, while additional rescue efforts extended internationally into Canada, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Panama, and Spain.

Fulfilling our goal to be a reliable and expert resource for law enforcement agencies, fellow animal welfare entities and to captive wildlife in need everywhere... The Wild Animal Sanctuary has become the largest Carnivore Sanctuary in The World while operating one of the most contemporary facilities in existence for rescued large carnivores.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Animal Rescue Program

Providing Rescue Services to:

National, State, and Local Law Enforcement & Animal Welfare Agencies who confiscate large exotic animals from illegal or abusive situations... 

Individuals who have come to the conclusion that exotic animals (especially large carnivores) are not pets, and find they were mistaken to think they could successfully own and care for one.



Population(s) Served




Program 2

AnimalCare Program

Rehabilitation, Medical Attention and Long Term Care for rescued animals.



Population(s) Served

Other Named Groups



Program 3

Public Education Program

The Wild Animal Sanctuary works to educate the general public on the causes, affects and solutions to the Captive Wildlife Crisis in America in order to bring about change and eventually solve the problem.



Population(s) Served

Other Named Groups



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The Sanctuary has the following goals that relate to its mission:
    (1) To rescue and provide a high-quality life-long home for animals that are caught up in the Captive Wildlife Crisis.
    (2) To educate the public about the issues surrounding the Captive Wildlife Crisis.
    (3) To help generate new laws and regulations that will benefit wildlife by educating government agencies, legislators, and other officials about the Captive Wildlife Crisis.
    (4) To assist other sanctuaries and animal welfare agencies in their quest to save captive wildlife.
    (5) To pioneer new methods of caring for captive wildlife so their lives in captivity are more enriched and have greater value and meaning.
    (6) To establish a broad network of support that will continue to grow the Sanctuary's financial capacity and strength so the mission of the organization can continue to function with stability and purpose.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    The Wild Animal Sanctuary has specific strategies in place to accomplish its six primary goals.
    (1) Build a fleet of specialized rescue vehicles that can respond to animals in need no matter how small or large the operation is, and establish a world-class sanctuary where animals can live freely and in comfort with exceptional care.
    (2) Create a Sanctuary where the general public and animal advocates can learn in-depth lessons about captive wildlife and the reasons behind their needing rescue and placement in sanctuaries.
    (3) Build a consortium of legal professionals, legislators, animal welfare groups and other influential entities that can help create better laws and regulations pertaining to captive wildlife.
    (4) Establish the Wild Animal Sanctuary as a proven entity that is ready, willing and able to help government agencies, sanctuaries and other animal welfare groups when there is a need for cooperative assistance in emergencies and other times of need.
    (5) Design, create and build a sanctuary where animals can roam freely in large acreage natural habitats and live with other rescued animals of their own kind in harmony.
    (6) Establish complete transparency and build a network of communication where donors and supporters can clearly see the value of the Sanctuary's work so they will continue to support the important work being done there.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    The Wild Animal Sanctuary has continually focused its efforts on the goals and strategies that will enable it to follow its mission. Doing so has helped the organization establish the following capabilities:
    (1) The Sanctuary has built its homing and care capacities so that it is able to respond to a significant number of rescue requests - thereby helping the animals in need at the most critical time in their lives. It also maintains a fleet of highly-specialized rescue vehicles that can rescue and comfortably transport up to 75 animals at one time.
    (2) The Sanctuary is able to comfortably accommodate large numbers of visitors who are interested in learning about captive wildlife and the issues and trends that create their need for being rescued.
    (3) The Sanctuary is able to respond to urgent issues in states where captive wildlife issues have plagued the state and general public, and has the resources and backing in public pressure to help create and pass new laws and regulations that will help stop the abuse of captive wildlife.
    (4) The Sanctuary is able to respond and assist sanctuaries and government agencies when they find themselves in emergency situations without the proper tools, manpower or experience needed to successfully help animals in dire situations.
    (5) The Sanctuary has been able to design and implement a unique and effective rehabilitation program where rescued animals transition from being scared, abused and malnourished, to becoming healthy, happy and confident so they can live in freely in large acreage habitats with others of their own kind.
    (6) The Sanctuary is able to continue to reach thousands of new people each year in order to educate them about the mission of the Sanctuary and convert their appreciation and interest into ongoing support through its many programs of giving.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Indicators of the Sanctuary's success in reaching its goals are demonstrated through solid results such as:
    (1) The Sanctuary has been able to rescue and rehabilitate over 1,000 animals in its 35 year history, and has grown to become the largest and oldest large carnivore sanctuary in the world today.
    (2) The Sanctuary has continued to develop its educational capacity and currently educates over 200,000 people per year through on-site education programs, while reaching millions more through media stories and internet-based initiatives.
    (3) The Sanctuary has been instrumental in getting more than 10 states to pass legislation toward ending captive wildlife issues, as well as worked on and supported national laws like the Captive Wildlife Safety act and other national efforts to ban private ownership of exotic animals. The Sanctuary has also worked with Canadian, Mexican, Panamanian, Bolivian, Uruguayan, Argentinian and Spanish governments to help create laws and policies that would protect captive wildlife.
    (4) The Wild Animal Sanctuary has responded to a number of national disasters where agencies such as the USDA, US Fish & Wildlife, PETA, HSUS and other animal welfare agencies needed help in rescuing captive wildlife, and has also rescued animals from many other sanctuaries when wildfires and other disasters created an urgent need for outside help.
    (5) The Wild Animal Sanctuary stands as the only sanctuary in the country that provides large acreage habitats for its rescued large carnivores and continues to pioneer rehabilitation techniques and habitat design for the benefit of all the animals it rescues.
    (6) The Sanctuary has continued to build its base of support in order to protect and preserve its ability to help animals in need, and has grown its fundraising capacity continually each year for more than a decade so that its mission to help animals will remains strong and intact.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    The Sanctuary has always remained focused and true to its mission to help animals. Throughout the three decades of operation, the Sanctuary has continued to extend its capabilities toward addressing the Captive Wildlife Crisis. Its operations have grown from an original 5 acres 35 years ago, to more than 720 acres in 2015. Its workforce of volunteers have continued to grow, with over 160 active volunteers helping to rescue and care for animals - as well as provide high-quality educational opportunities to the public.

    The Sanctuary has grown in capacity in both rescue operations and animal care, with more than 400 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other large carnivores thriving within the Sanctuary's grounds. Over 35,000 pounds of food is fed on a weekly basis, and the Sanctuary has built partnerships with giant corporations like Wal-Mart and energy giants who donate more than 5.5 million dollars worth of in-kind goods and supplies each year.

    New cooperative relationships are formed on a daily basis , and the Sanctuary has continued to win awards and honors from independent industry monitoring entities such as Guide Star and Charity Navigator, as well as receiving prestigious awards from the Federal Government.
Service Areas



Rescuing animals throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America.


Educational efforts reaching most international communities.

Additional Documents

Social Media

Funding Needs

Contributions in  a sustainable manner such as pledges, adoptions and scheduled support such as payroll deduction Funding for increased education Funding for land for additional habitat development

Affiliations + Memberships

Community Shares



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The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Executive Director

Patrick L Craig


Pat Craig began saving captive wildlife at age 19, while still a college student. Thirty years later, his direction has led to the oldest and largest nonprofit sanctuary in North America for exotic Great cats and bears who have been abused, abandoned, exploited or illegally kept. Today The Wild Animal Sanctuary houses more than 350 Tigers, Lions, Grizzly and Black Bears, Leopards, Mountain Lions, Wolves, Servals, Bobcats and other large carnivores. An innovator in providing exceptional care for captive great cats, bears and wolves by developing large acreage species-specific habitats, Mr. Craig is recognized as a leading expert in large carnivore behavior and management.

STATEMENT FROM THE Executive Director

"The Wild Animal Sanctuary is unique among its peers, as this organization is the only Sanctuary or other large carnivore facility in the country that offers its rescued animals large acreage free-roaming habitats to live in.  Rescued prides of Lions roam freely - as do Wolf Packs, Bears and Tigers - all living in harmony within species-specific natural habitats.

Over the past three decades, the Sanctuary has built an entire team of highly trained staff and lead volunteers. The team ranges from specialized animal care professionals, to development, public relations and facility management personnel. The Sanctuary's Board of Directors is comprised of community leaders and individuals that have in-depth knowledge about the Captive Wildlife Crisis in America."



Judy Wilson

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Term: Jan 2012 - Jan 2014


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

Race & Ethnicity
Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Diversity Strategies
We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity