Predators are at home within their fences
Editor's note: This story originally ran in The York Dispatch on Aug. 6, 2015:
KEENESBURG, COLO. — Like each new sanctuary arrival, Ricki started her new sanctuary life in an introduction pen, which staffers call a "lockout" and can be smaller than the animal's previous home.
The locking pens, including Ricki's, are inside multi-acre fenced-in habitats where other animals of the same species already reside.
Pat Craig, executive director of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, said that allows the new arrival and its habitat-mates to get to know each other safely. If they can't get along, staff will know that before any animals are injured.
Craig said even longtime sanctuary residents take comfort in the fences on their habitat borders because they feel protected from larger predators, such as prides of lions. When Craig opens a habitat's gates, the residents don't try to escape, he said.
"This is the grandest home they've ever had," he said. "They're happy."
He said that's because the sanctuary's residents have never known a life in the wild.
Any wild predator would be restless if confined, even in one of the sanctuary's large-acreage habitats — especially bears, which can roam up to a hundred miles a day, according to Craig.
"All they've known their whole lives are fences," he said. "Half of 'em don't know they're a bear or a lion or a tiger when they first get here."
For more information or to make a donation, visit wildanimalsanctuary.org.