Colorado’s Wild Animal Sanctuary spends $5 million to add welcome center, expand walkway

staff photo
The new welcome center at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg. (Courtesy of the Wild Animal Sanctuary)

The new welcome center at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg. (Courtesy of the Wild Animal Sanctuary)

Colorado is home to the largest sanctuary in the world for rescued lions, tigers, and bears after The Wild Animal Sanctuary recently added a new welcome center.

The new center, about 30 miles northeast of Denver, features a gift shop, cafeteria-style restaurant and ice cream shop. That plus a new commissary for events and extra half-mile of elevated walkway cost $5 million, said Pat Craig, executive director of the sanctuary.

The nonprofit sanctuary in Keenesburg used a federal loan to pay for the new 48,000-square-foot center. Money from the gift shop, restaurant and ice cream sales is expected to repay the loan, according to a news release.

All donations and other revenues that are collected for the roughly 420 animals — mostly large carnivores who were raised in captivity — at the 720-acre facility will continue to go toward caring for the animals.

“We’ve developed amazing ways to take care of and protect our animals,” Craig said in a release. “We wanted to replicate that for our guests and feel we have succeeded.”

A grand opening for the ceremony and Halloween party is being held Oct. 31.

Attendees of The Wild Animal Sanctuary view a rescued bear from the elevated walkway. (Courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary)

Attendees of The Wild Animal Sanctuary view a rescued bear from the elevated walkway. (Courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary)

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

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