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Next time you feel like experiencing wildlife, instead of making a trip to the zoo, head to Colorado to visit the world’s largest carnivore sanctuary. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is just outside Denver in Keenesburg, Colo., and currently is home to more than 450 rescued lions, bears, tigers, wolves, and other large carnivores now living on 720 acres of grasslands. The stories of these animals are inspiring and the sanctuary gives visitors a one-of-a-kind experience with rescued wildlife.

The elevated walkway

The sanctuary’s Mile into the Wild elevated walkway is a unique way for guests to safely view the animal habitats in a non-invasive way. Hundreds of people walk the 1.5-mile-long walkway without disturbing the wildlife that play or roam freely below in their wide-open spaces. The walkways and decks actually hold a record as one of the longest footbridges in the world.

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A rescued tiger from New Orleans

The sanctuary over the past 20 years has saved more than 1,000 large carnivores, with the goal of rehabilitating them and then releasing them into large-acre habitats, ranging from 5 acres to 25 acres. The facilities are built specifically for the different species that call the sanctuary home, as not all animals can be rehabilitated the same way. The habitats are designed to build confidence and prepare the animals for their larger habitats.

Bears playing in the water

In addition to lions, tigers, bears and wolves, the sanctuary is home leopards and mountain lions as well as smaller carnivores such as bobcats, lynx, foxes and coyotes. You may also see rescued horses, ostrich, emu and alpaca, as well as cats, dogs and birds. While the large habitats have plenty of wide-open spaces, they also include enrichment structures for the animals such as lakes, pools and animal jungle gyms for plenty of playtime fun.

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Two rescued lions, Arthur and Lacie

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is open daily for visitors from 9 am to sunset. Visitor attendance at the sanctuary has grown to more than 200,000 visitors per year and the facility recently added another half-mile elevated walkway that reaches over 400 acres of new habitats. It also built a new 48,00-square-foot Welcome Center that includes a restaurant, ice cream shop, gift shop, event space and more.

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