DENVER (CBS4) – A passion for protecting animals is the driving force behind these Colorado sanctuaries. Visits from guests are crucial in educating the public about the importance of wildlife conservation and help keep these animals in refuge. In an ideal world, there would not be a need for animal sanctuaries, but luckily these great sanctuaries in Colorado are helping preserve and refuge some of Earth’s greatest creatures.

(credit: CBS)

Wild Animal Sanctuary
1946 County Road 53
Keenesburg, CO 80643
You might think you’re in Africa, but it’s really eastern Colorado. Lions, tigers, bears, mountain lions, wolves and leopards are all around. Pat Craig and his family provide a haven for discarded and otherwise homeless wild animals. In early 2011 the Wild Animal Sanctuary was in the news as 25 lions rescued from Bolivian circuses were brought there. The sanctuary rescues and cares for 470 previously neglected animals in their 789 acres of land. Due to accelerating growth, the sanctuary has had to expand to another location in Southern Colorado that will not be open to the public but will allow animals to live in a semi-natural state.

Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center
4729 Twin Rocks Road
Divide, CO 80814
(719) 687-9742
This center focuses on education and conservation. Through tours and programs, they seek to educate the public on the importance of coyotes, wolves, and foxes to our eco-system. To get to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center take US Hwy 24 west from Colorado Springs through Woodland Park to Divide. Continue west from Divide a mile and a half and look for the turn off to the Center. Wolves, fox and other wildlife can be found at the sanctuary. Daily tours and specials like moonlight tours are offered.

Mission: Wolf
13388 County Road 634
Gardner, CO 81040
(719) 859-2157
This remote wolf refuge in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains has been offering sanctuary to wolves and wolf hybrids for more than 20 years. It is located between Westcliffe and Gardner on the east side of the Sangre de Cristos.

Indigo Mountain Nature Center
Lake George, CO 80827
(719) 748-5550
This sanctuary for captive-born wildlife sits in a remote forest not too far from Lake George, Colorado. Resident wildlife includes wolf-dogs, bears, Bengal cats, hedgehogs and other animals who would never survive in the wild on their own. Large, enclosed pens offer a natural habitat for these discarded, abused or neglected animals to live out their lives. The best way to visit is to volunteer with a group to come spend time with the animals.

The original version of this article appeared on in 2011.