KUSA — KEENESBURG — The Wild Animal Sanctuary says its 789 acres in Keenesburg are nearly full.

The sanctuary is home to over 460 animals, including lions, tigers, bears, wolves, jaguars, mountain lions, leopards, bobcats, lynx, coyotes, fox, coatimundi, porcupines, raccoons, ostriches, emus, alpacas, horses and a camel, rescued from illegal or abusive situations.

The non-profit sanctuary has rescued over 1,000 animals in its 38 year history.

Once isolated on the Colorado prairie, the sanctuary is now being encroached by development and is under the threat of being landlocked.

Massive oil well rigs also stand tall on surrounding properties.

One oil rig across the street from the sanctuary "produces a constant roaring noise akin to the Army, Navy and Marines," says The Wild Animal Sanctuary Executive Director Pat Craig, in a newsletter to sanctuary supporters.

The sanctuary now says it has found a solution to its space problem.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary's Wildlife Refuge
The Wild Animal Sanctuary's Wildlife Refuge

The Wildlife Refuge

The sanctuary has announced the purchase of 9,004 acres of new land in southeastern Colorado.

The addition is located approximately 190 miles southeast of The Wild Animal Sanctuary.

Named "The Wildlife Refuge," it is situated between the towns of La Junta and Springfield. Most of the new property is located in Baca County and some is located in Las Animas County.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary's Wildlife Refuge
The Wild Animal Sanctuary's Wildlife Refuge

Will the sanctuary in Keenesburg close?

The Wild Animal Sanctuary says definitely not.

The current location in Keenesburg will continue to operate normally with the continued goal of educating the public about the Captive Wildlife Crisis while continuing to care for the nearly-500 animals living there.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary says work has already begun on the Baca County refuge. While it may be months before the first large habitat is completed there, the property will provide a home for animals for decades to come.

The new property features dense forests, rock outcroppings and canyon spaces — a sharp contrast to the flat plains at the Keenesburg sanctuary. The facility is so vast that the animals will have more space to live on, with more natural and stimulating environments.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary's Wildlife Refuge
The Wild Animal Sanctuary's Wildlife Refuge

Due to the remoteness of the refuge and development that needs to take place, the new facility will not be open to the public for the foreseeable future, but that could change as time goes on.

The majority of the animals that live at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg will continue to call that home, while the Wildlife Refuge will be well-suited for rescues in the years to come.

As for access for native wildlife, the refuge will not be completely fenced-in with plenty of access between animal habitats.

How you can help

The Wild Animal Sanctuary has already invested $2 million into the purchase of the 9004-acre property, but it will take much more to complete the purchase in-full and pay for fencing and upgrades.

Donations to the new refuge can be made at TheWildAnimalRefuge.com.