KEENSBURG, Colo. (CBS4)– The Wild Animal Sanctuary northeast of Denver has increased fees for daily visitors from $15 to $50 but says it’s not about the money, it’s about the visitors.
“We are all about quality not quantity. Same thing with the people,” said Wild Animal Sanctuary Chief Operating Officer Casey Craig.
This week when the Wild Animal Sanctuary raised its entrance fee, there were some unhappy visitors.
“We’re from 500 miles away, we’re not going to come back here,” said Stan who was visiting Colorado from Iowa. “We’re not very happy about that.”
The organization stands by its decision saying the sanctuary is a home for animals not entertainment for people.
“The fifteen dollar entrance fee was set solely because that’s what it was costing the sanctuary to be open to the public,” said Craig.
The 720-acre site houses more than 400 once neglected and malnourished large carnivores like bears, lions and tigers. Those animals cost up to $10,000 a year to care for.
Craig said fewer visitors were donating to help run the sanctuary and were treating it like an amusement park.
“People were coming out here solely for their entertainment and not for the right reasons,” said Craig. “So that’s why we switched to the new way we are open to the public.
“If you’re truly the right person and you have that mindset and you care about what we do, there is no dollar figure that we say you can’t come in, it’s about the mindset of giving and donating.”
Some visitors said they understood the reasons for the increase.
“There’s a lot of expense to keep up these animals, they eat a lot,” said Dave Trogden, a visitor from Loveland.
Craig hopes the change attracts visitors who support the mission.
“If you believe in that then odds are you’d donate to that and if you are a donor you can bring friends and family as much as you like.”