Forever Wild, Forever Home invites readers to discover the magic of The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, the premier large carnivore sanctuary in the world.
In 1980, Pat Craig rescued a baby jaguar he christened Freckles and took his first bold steps on a forty-year journey to combat the growing crisis of exotic animal captivity, abuse, and trafficking – one rescue at a time. Today more than 200 bears, 60 African lions, and 70 tigers, as well as jaguars, leopards, mountain lions, wolves, and other exotic animals, both large and small, enjoy peace, comfort, and contentment in enormous habitats on thousands of acres of The Wild Animal Sanctuary’s prairie and canyonlands. Rescued from mostly horrific situations, they are survivors, with much to teach us about courage, resilience, and hope. Their lives resonate with our own.
With over 100 color photos, this absorbing, thoughtful, and timely narrative offers an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at what it is really like to care for wild carnivores. Both heartwarming and humorous, Forever Wild, Forever Home honors the nobility and wellbeing of the animals who call the Sanctuary home, and the heroic and gratifying labors of those who care for them.
Join Sanctuary teams on rescues of giant Alaskan Kodiak bears languishing in the Florida tropics, a lion held captive by a fortune teller in a tiny Mexican town, two big cats marooned and starving on a typhoon-ravaged island in the Pacific Ocean, and thirty-nine tigers owned by Joe Exotic, the “Tiger King” of Netflix fame. Meet Colo Colo, an angry African lion from Bolivia; Tasha Joy, a tiger who didn’t know she was a tiger; the ever-busy grizzly bears, Tiny who tips the scales at 1,000 pounds and his friend Natasha; Diego, a white tiger; Jumanji, a black leopard; Lambert, a lion who finally learns to roar – and many more. Learn how the Mile into the Wild Walkway, the longest elevated pedestrian footbridge in the world, enables sky-high visitors to see wild animals in vast habitats; how staff and volunteers create cozy houses and unique playgrounds for the Sanctuary’s (mostly) furry residents; and what happens when it’s time for a large carnivore to visit the doctor or dentist.
At The Wild Animal Sanctuary, tigers chuff in greeting, bears bask under brilliantly blue skies, mountain lions purr with joy, and African lions roar in winter. The Sanctuary is often seen as the last hope for the animals who are rescued and brought here to their forever home. But the thousands of people who visit, support, work, and volunteer here know that this is the place where hope begins.
About the Author
Melanie and Mark Shellenbarger never set out to become animal welfare advocates working to stop the captive wildlife crisis in its tracks. But on an April morning just a few years ago they gazed across the broad meadows and enormous habitats of The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado and what they saw changed their lives. African lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, grizzly bears, black bears, and other wild animals had been rescued from a hellish existence to this heaven on earth. Little did they know that the experience would inspire them to embark on an all-encompassing endeavor -- writing this book commemorating the forty-year history of The Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Melanie is an architectural historian and retired faculty member of the Department of Architecture at the University of Colorado. Mark is a retired business executive who managed a variety of global operations with a British multinational company. They live in Denver, Colorado with their dog, Reo.