KEENESBURG, Colo. (CBS4) – The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg is a popular spot on the Eastern Plains, and now some visitors would like to spend the night.

Since opening to the public 10 years ago, the response has been overwhelming. People say they want to stay overnight and experience the sights and sounds. There are even those who would like to get married there.

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“It’s a good problem, but it’s not one that we ever envisioned dealing with,” said Pat Craig, Wild Animal Sanctuary Executive Director.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Wild Animal Sanctuary

After years of focusing on the lions, wolves, tigers and bears that call the Wild Animal Sanctuary home, Craig says it’s the center’s visitors who now need attention. The sanctuary houses former circus and zoo animals and each year it’s popularity with people grows. Now they are requesting places to stay, dine, camp and hold nuptials.

“For people to say ‘I want to do something that’s a big life event’ here is pretty amazing to us to have that honor,” Craig said.

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Dave Thrush took this photo of bears wrestling at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg on May 15, 2013.

Dave Thrush took this photo of bears wrestling at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg.

To accommodate more than 200,000 visitors annually, Craig plans to expand by building a new welcome center and adding RV parking and a convention center. He estimates the project will cost $6 million.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg (credit: CBS)

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg (credit: CBS)

“All these expansion projects are solving problems for people, but those people are very focused on making sure the animals are happy and have a great life,” he said.

Managers hope to have the new welcome center open by April, and the entire project complete by the end of next year.

LINK: Wild Animal Sanctuary

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